Part 13 - - Offline

Part 13 - - Offline
A project of Volunteers
by : Bill
in Asia
Published by:
Tagari Books
TAGARI, Permaculture
P.O. Box 96, Stanley
Tasmania, 7331
Paper copies
are A$ 8.00
Tagari Books
TAGARI, Permaculture
P.O. Box 96, Stanley
Tasmania, 7331
of Tagari
by permission
of this microfiche
document in any
form is subject to the same restrictions
as those
of the original
If there is a single claim, that I could make, in order to distinguish Permaculture
from other systems of agriculture, with the notable exception of keyline concepts, it is
that Permaculture is primarily a corzscio~sly designed agricultural system . . . a system
that combines landscape design with perennial plants and animals to make a safe and
sustainable resource for town and country. 4 truly appropriate technology giving high
yields for low energy inputs, and using only human skill and intellect to achieve a stable
resource of great complexity and stability.”
Permaculture Two is about design, not gardening or livestock per se but as
elements in a system intended to serve man, and the ends of good ecology . . . Good
teachers have nothing to give but enthusiasm to learn; they cannot with the best will in
the world, give their students knowledge. Thus it is ‘how’ to design, rather than
designing your site which I am attempting here . . .”
both individual and competitive enterprise, and ‘free’ energy have faiIed us.
Society is in a mess; obesity in the west is balanced by famine in the third world. Petrol
is running out yet freeways are still being built. Against such universal insanity the only
response is to gather together a few friends and commence to build the alternative on a
philosophy of individual responsibility for community survival.”
BOX 1272
!I: Practical
Design and Further
Theory in Pcrmancnt
A Tagari Community
First Publication Australia,
First Print 25,000
Copyright ‘~1 Bill Mollison, 1979
Nattonal Library of Australia Card and I.S.B.N.
The contents of
any fair dealing
permitted under
without written
0 938228 00 7
this book, and the word “Permaculture”
are copyright. Apart from
for the purpose of private stud!. research, criticitm or revicvv as
the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced hy any process
permission from the author. Enquiries should be made to the
Cover design and illustrations:
Photographs: Bill Mollison
Janet Mollison.
Tagari Books are published by
P.0. Box 96, Stanley,
Tasmania, 733 1,
Ph: 004-581105.
(Mail-order and trade enquiries welcomed)
Made and printed
in Australia
by Hedges and Bell, Maryborough.
that veteran of Virgil’s I recall
Who made a kitchen garden by the Galaesus
On derelict land, and got the first of spring
From airs and buds, the first fruits in the fall
And lived at peacethere, happy as a king.
. . . . . . . .
I seeman’s native
Stock is perennial, and our creative
Winged seedcan strike a root in anything.”
Cecil Day Lewis”
. ..
As in Permaculture One, minor references are given in the text; major sources are listed in
full, sometimes with a short annotation as to their usefulness, in Section 10 of this book, and
Appendix D of Permaculture One (with some overlap in references).
and Dirtxtions
All months, seasons and directions are given for the southern hemisphere. For corresponding
equivalents in the northern hemisphere it is simply necessary to reverse directions, and for planting times add 6 months. All units are used in the original form.
Permaculture One
Permaculture Two
Permaculture Quarterly, the journal of the Permaculture Association.
Tagari is a small group of about 30 (but growing) parents, single people and children
devllted to the evolution of the meta-industrial village*, and to experiments in alternative
systems of agriculture and industry. It is a non-profit association, where surplus goes to
furthering these aims. The writer is a foundation member, with his wife and friends.
Please keep letters sparse and informative; we are very busy. If impelled to write, enclose
self-addressed and stamped envelope; a few spare stamps also help. Workers are welcome in
season, but please write first.
*See, for a model, William Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light, Anchor Books, 1978.
Cover Story
Concept: Janet Mullison, Artwork: Andrew Jeeves.
Within the circle is a “rolling permaculture” systemof linked sun trap/wind break plantings (seeFigs. 4.5,4.6). each
containing an element which takes advantageof the extra heat and light: a dwelling (glasshouse-fronted with reflection pond in front) and annual garden; a milking shed; a polycultural pond: and a “simultaneous rotation” Fukuoka
grain/legume/pulse plot.
Outside the circle are the elementsof life: air, fire, water, earth and time.
Between theselies the landscape shaper of aboriginal mythology , . .
“We have a legendthat explains the formation of the hills, the rivers and all the shapesof the land. Everytime ir rains
and I seea beautiful rainbow I am reminded of the legend of the Rainbow Serpent . . .
In the beginning the earth was flat, a vast grey plain. As the rainbow serpent wound his way across the land, the
movement of his body heaped up the mountains and dug troughs for the rivers. With each thrust of his huge multicoloured body a new land form was created.
At last, tired with the effort of shaping the earth, he crawled mto a waterhole. The cool water washedover his vast
body, cooling and soothing him . . . Each time the animals visited the waterhole, they were careful not to disturb the
Rainbow Serpent, for although they could not seehim they knew he was there. Then one day, after a huge rainstorm.,
they saw him. His huge coloured body was arching up from the waterhole, over the tree tops, up through the clouds,
across the plain to another waterhole.
To this day the Aboriginals are careful not to disturb the Rainbow Serpent, as they seehim, going acrossthe sky
from one waterhole to another.”
From Gulpilil’s
Sfories ofthe
by Hugh Rule and Stuart Goodman,
published by William
Sydney, 1979.
P.11 is rather a family affair, with Phil (my wife) typing, correcting and enduring; Janet (my
daughter) fitting in some illustrations between formal studies and the members of Tagari assisting
as needed. Andrew Jeeves in particular assisting with illustrations and proof reading.
A great many people have contributed ideas and solutions to this book. In particular, I would
like to acknowledge the fruitful discussions I have had with Geoff Wallace, Ken and P. A.
Yeomans, Deborah White and Victor Papanek; and the encouragement of people I admire, like
Ken Kern, Earle Barnhardt (New Alchemists), Stephen Gaskin (The Farm, Tennessee), Robert de
Hart (co-author of Forest Farming) and innumerable friends in the alternative lifestyle movement.
In Australia, Terry White continues to edit the Permaculture Quarterly despite financial constraints, and a great many self-sufficiency freaks (with and without blue rinses and bare feet) have
implemented many of the designs that were still theory in P.I., and have spread acceptance of the
system far and wide.
1.1 The Underlying Philosophy.
1.2 On Permanent Agriculture.
2.1 On Design.
2.2 Design Criteria.
1 Deciding Priorities
2.3 Zone and Sector Ground Planning.
1 How to Place Elements in Zones
2 How to Place Eiements in Sectors
2.4 Broadscale Landscape Analysis
1 Taking Advantage of Slope
2.5 How Much Land?
2.6 The Stacking of Plants.
1 System Establishment
2.7 The Interaction of Plants and Animals
1 Animals
3.1 Broadscale Soil Improvement
3.2 No-tillage Cropping
1 Green Crops
2 Pulses and Legumes, Hedgerow, Oil Plants
3 Distribution of Yield
3.3 Sheet Mulch for Home Gardens
1 Living Mulch
2 Stone Mulch
3 Keeping your Annuals Perennial
4.1 Planning an Even Fodder Distribution
4.2 Rolling Permaculture for Larger Properties
1 On-farm and Urban Production of fuels from Plants
4.3 Orchards
1 Pruning-Necessity
or Habit?
5.1 Arid Lands
1 Local Strategies
2 Livestock
3 Aboriginal Skills
4 Permanent Grain Plots
Poultry Forage Systems 5
Notes on Aboriginal Nutrition 6
Annotated List of Useful Arid Land Species 7
Acknowledgements and Apologia 8
Tropics 4 2
Humid Tropics I
Sea Coasts 5.3
The Creation of Small Climates 5.4
The Reactive House
House Modifications
The Basic Sun-Wind Defences or Alliances
Some Novel Houses
Earth Houses 1
Plant Houses 2
Minor Designs and Techniques
Sound Walls 1
The Sod Roof 2
Fire Mandalas 3
Windows 4
Back to the Cave 5
Sewage and other Filthy Matters 6
Aquatic Polyculture
Waterworks Construction
Nomenclature of Ponds and Lakes 1
Pond Cuiture
Public Policy-the
Sport Fishery
Salicornia Flats
Tidal Stone Traps 1
Seagrasses (Zostera, Heterozostera and Posidonia) 2
Forage Storage
Regulation of Yield
Species with Seeds and Pods in Summer 1
Trees and Shrubs yielding Nuts or
Acorns for Storage (autumn-spring) 2
Berries and Fruits yielding Flesh or
Seed (late summer-mid-winter)
Vines for Fences and Trellis 4
Roots 5
Greens and Seeds as Herb Layer 6
Species for Broadcast Sowing in Straw-Yards 7
Herbs, “Weeds” and “Throwover”
Crop 8
Layout 9
Action for People
Design Consultancy
Standard Designs
Permaculture Quarterly and Association
The Permaculture Institute
Permaculture Species Index
. ..
It must be stated at the outset that I regard permanent agriculture as a valid, safe, and susdefined here, claims to be designed
tainable, complete energy system. Permaculture,\s
agriculture, so that the species, composition, array and organization of plants and animals are the
central factor. In that sense this is not a gardening book.
Permaculture One may thus be the first book on plants in which functional design (not
cosmetic array) is the central theme; for we have many more energy benefits from design than we
have from random placement of species, beyond the intrinsic value of plants or animals.
Permaculture Two attempts to make practical suggestions as to how these energy benefits are
to be obtained, from domestic to broadacre environments. Plants are not only beneficial of
themselves, but also modify local climate and many forms of pollution. Permaculture is a dispersed system, available to anybody who can garden. Centred on human settlement or community, it
holds the welfare of man and the needs of the people it is intended to serve as the paramount concern. The intention of P.11 then, is not to define a particular solution or to list designs for all
climates and occasions, but to instance the ways in which people have evolved new approaches
and solutions-most
of them needing minimal energy, and all of them producing more calories
than they consume.
Permaculture now has had many trials throughout Australia, in many climatic regions. Neither
IJavicl Holmgren nor myself anticipated the strong response to P.I. and the subsequent demand
ior detailed planning and lectures, workshops and seminars, consultancy and on-site design.
Many people wrote to say they were practising, or thinking of, similar systems, and that we had
expressed their almost-formulated ideas in P.l. which was a hurried re-make of our rather stuffy
notes, and it is with more leisure and pleasure that this second book is planned and written. As it
cannot cover all cases, or climates, local adaptations will need to be made by readers, but the idea
of planning for low-energy systems should be clear.
I hope and believe that the systems presented here will be eclipsed by more carefully designed
arrays as we gain experience and information by working with whole systems.
“In this worldi.things are complicated and are decided by many factors. We should look at
problems from different aspects, not from just one.”
-Mao Tse Tung, 1945
Perhaps Fukuoka,” in his book The One Straw Revolution, has best stated the basic philosophy
of permaculture. In brief, it is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labour; and of looking
at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product
system. The difference is like that which exists between the Aboriginal and the ploughman: the
latter is seen as one who would cut open his mother’s breast to obtain milk, the former takes only what is given freely, and takes it with due reverence.
Had we studied the diverse yield of the American prairies, the African savannahs, and the
Australian bush, we may have found (as we have found in later analysis) that they gave us more in
their natural state than they do as ploughed and fenced systems. For Africa it is estimated that
production of meat protein alone fell to 1160th of its natural level when we cleared, fenced,
ploughed, sowed pasture and introduced exotic cattle. Here, then, we see senseless energy or
“hard work” as a destructive effect in nature. Often enough, in Australia, we can find one
grazier barely existing on lands that supported two to three hundred Aborigines.
But for people with little free energy, it is inspirational to read of what Fukuoka3 and Bouffie? achieved, on foot over large acreages, and with large yields. In Central Honduras;
Andersenl’ describes the gardens about the little houses:
Close to the house and frequently more or less surrounding it is a compact garden-orchard
several hundred square feet in extent. No two of these are exactly alike. There are neat plantations
more or less groupe d together. There are various fruit trees (nance, citrus, melias, a mango here
and there, a thicket of coffee bushes in the shade of the larger trees) . . . There are tapioca plants
of one or two varieties, grown more or less in rows at the edge of the trees. Frequently there are
patches of taro; these are the framework of the garden-orchards. Here and there in rows or patches are corn and beans. Climbing and scrambling over all are vines of various squashes and their
relatives; the chayote (choke) grown for the squashes, as well as its big starchy root. The luffa
gourd, its skeleton used for dishrags and sponges. The cucurbits clamber over the eaves of the
house and run along the ridgepole, climb high in the trees, or festoon the fence. Setting off the
whole garctcn are flowers and various useful weeds (dahlias, gladioli, climbing roses, asparagus
fern, cannas). Grain amaranth is a “sort of encouraged weed that sews itself”.
Around the “dooryard gardens” described above, he notes the fields (in Mexico) “dotted here
and there with volunteer guavas and guamuchiele trees, whose fruit was carefully gathered. Were
they orchards or pastures “What words are there in English to describe their groupings?”
Andersen is comrasting the strict, ordered, linear, segmented thinking of Europeans with the
productive, more natural polyculture of the dry tropics. The order he describes is a semi-natural
order of plants, :n their right relationship to each other, but not separated into various artificial
groupings. More than that, the house and fence form essential trellis for the garden, so that it is
no longer clear where orchard, field, house and garden have their boundaries, where annuals, and
perennials belong, or indeed where cultivation gives way to naturally-evolved systems.
Monoculture man (a pompous figure I often imagine to exist, sometimes fat and white like a
consumer, sometimes stern and straight like a row-crop farmer) cannot abide this complexity in
his garden or his life. His is the world of order and simplicity.
Permaculture Two then, is about design, not gardening or livestock per se but as elements in a
system intended to serve man, and the ends of good ecology. But, as Fukuoka3 notes:
“Changes, to be of any consequence, must come first at the basic philosophical level.”
and the changes I seek are very much a matter of philosophy, a search for the right question,
rather than the answer to any question. Of the two questions-What
can I demand this land to
do? or-What
does this land have to give me ?-the first leads to a forcible rape of land by
machinery, and the second to a sustained ecology supported by the intelligent control of man. It is
war or peace, and the latter takes more thought than the former.
Standing at the centre, or sitting at your back doorstep, all you need to live a good life lies
about you. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds and plants surround you. Cooperation with all these things makes harmony, opposition to them brings dissonance and chaos.
Fukuoka3 speaks of mahayana, of farming as sacred work in the service of nature, of how people
of all religions arc attracted to his farm, and his philosophy of natural living and growing, of
making no difference between oneself and the world, (for there is no difference, but we can know
this only by not wanting to know about it). -411we can do is assist in the complexity of life, we
cannot create life. By “trying too hard” though, we can easily destroy life.
I have spoken, on a more mundane level, of using aikido on the landscape, of rolling with the
blows, turning adversity into strength, and using everything positively. The other approach is to
karate the landscape, to try to make it yield by exerting your strength, and striking many hard
blows. But if we attack nature we attack (and destroy) ourselves. We can only hope to understand, to use what is there. Let us look at Fukuoka’s four principles of growing:
NO Cultivation-do
not turn the soil over, and so cause injuries which attempt to heal
No chemical fertilizer or prepared compost-let the plants and animals that make the soil
go to work on the soil.
No weeding by tillage or herbicide-use the weeds; control them-by natural means, or occasional cutting.
No dependence --XIchemicals-Insects and disease, Needs and pests, have their own controls-let
these operate, and assist them.
This is indeed a low-energy system of agricultural strategy.
There is more than one way to achieve permanence and stability in land or society. The peasant
approach is well described by King’ for old China. Here man hauled nutrients from canals, cesspits, pathways and forests to an annual grain culture. We could describe this as ‘feudal permanence’ for its methods, period and politics. Man bound to landscape by unremitting toil, and
in service to a landlord. This leads eventually to famine and revolution.
A second approach is the permanent pasture of prairie, pampas, and modern western farms,
where large holdings and few people create vast grazing leases, usually for a single species of
animal. This is best described as ‘baronial permanence’ with near-regal properties of immense extent, working at the lowest possible level of land use; for pasture is the least productive use of
land we can devise. Such systems, once mechanized, destroy whole landscapes and soil complexes.
Forests, not seen by industrial man as anything but wood, are another permanent agriculture.
But they need generations of care and knowledge, and hence a tribal or communal reverence only
found in stable communities. This then, is the communal permanence many of us seek. To be
able to plant a pecan or citrus when we are old, and to know it will not be cut down by our
children’s children.
The further we depart from communal permanence, the greater the risk of tyranny, feudalism,
and revolution and the more work for less yield. Any error or disturbance can bring disaster, as
can a drought year in a desert grain crop or a distant political decision on tariffs.
The real risk is that the needs of those “on the ground” -the inhabitants-are
overthrown by
the needs joi- greeds) of commerce and centralized power; that the forest is cut for warships or
newspaper and we are reduced to serfs in a barren landscape. This has been the fate of peasant
Europe, Ireland, and much of the third world.
I can roughly diagram the way forward to less energy use, but greed and senseless use may as
easily reverse the process. The diagram (Fig. 1.1) is a very simple but sufficient illustration
of the case I am making. Selected forests not only yield more than annual crops, but provide a
diverse nutrient and fuel resource for such crops.
The characteristic that typifies all permanent agricultures is that the needs of the system for
energy, are provided by that system. Modern crop agriculture is totally dependant on external
energies-hence the oil problem.
Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order. When I coined
the word permaculture I had both social and environmental factors in mind. It may be possible
that overpopulation itself is a response to increased energy needs in annual (peasant) crops, as it
was never a problem in forested areas, nor is it where energy excess is locally available, as in industrialized or technologized villages, or in tribal areas.
Thus, the departure from productive permanent systems, where the land is held in common, to
annual, commercial agricultures where land is regarded as a commodity involves a departure
from a low to a high-energy society, the use of land in an exploitive way, and a demand for external energy sources, mainly provided by the third world. People think I am slightly crazy when I
tell them to go home and garden, or not to involve themselves in broadscale mechanized
agriculture; but a little thought and reading will convince them that this is, in fact, the solution to
many world problems.
What is now possible is a totally new synthesis of plant and animal systems, using a postindustrial and even computerised approach to system design, applying the principles of whole
system energy flows as devised by Odum”, and the principles of good ecologies as enunciated by
Watt’* and others. It is, in the vernacular, a whole new ball game to devise permaculture systems
for local, regional, and personal needs.
The Aborigines of Tasmania left to their descendants a legend of “true signs”-something
happens to you here means something else is happening there. Something that happens now
means something else will happen later. Ghosts pluck at the muscles of the shoulder as someone
dies, waves rise from a smooth sea to signal illness, and the ti-tree breaks into flower as the swans
lay their first eggs-“hurry
to the lagoon, for the first eggs can be eaten.. and the swans will lay
again’ ’ ,
VirgillO too speaks of such things: “A heavy corn crop follows a heavy walnut crop, and a leafy
corn crop the leafy walnut”. The ti-tree and the walnut indicate the complexity of relationships
that may exist between species. It is a wise computer which can sense such relationships, but they
were the guidelines of wise men, and must be re-learnt by modern man. European or white man in
Tasmania occupies just that area where the stringy bark (Eucalyptus obliqua) grows: he doesn’t
extend voluntarily beyond that range. Aboriginal tribes were limited in range by “brother” trees
like the ironbark, the native cherry, or the cider gum. The tribal ecology was the ecology of that
To injure a tree was to injure a brother; this outlook, then, is one of sophisticated conservation. Can you cut down a brother and live? Thus, the most important man of any tribe, chosen
for long and true memory, was the crop-master. Not the chief (of warfare), not the doctor (of the
spirit and flesh), but the living computer, one of a long line of accurate memories, who orchestrated the taking of food, who arranged the taboos and the prohibitions, the feasts and
and ensured that the tribal permaculture endured, even though some of the tribe
irselt‘ perished. We lack crop-masters today.
If there is a single claim that I could make, in order to distinguish permaculture from other
systems of agriculture, with the notable exception of keyline concepts, it is that permaculture is
primarily a consciously designed agricultural system.
The main reasons for designing a plant system are:
0 to save our energies in the system;
0 to cope with energies entering the system from outside (sun, wind, fire);
@ to arrange plants so that they assist the health and survival of other plants;
0 to place all units (plants, earthworks and artifacts such as houses) in the best possible arrangement in landscape;
0 to suit climate and site (specific design);
0 to integrate with man and society, and save heating fuel and cooking energy; and
* to provide a wide range of necessities for man, in a way every man can achieve.
We look about in vain for evidence of good design, either in landscape or most dwellings.
Landscape planners and designers are legion, but where is the evidence of their work? Apart from
cosmetic and aesthetically organized plantings, following the contemplative mode of the Japanese
classical gardens, or the controlled vistas of the Taj Mahal gardens, (reminiscelit of the contrived
and formal entries to British and American grand houses) where are we to seek functional design
The imposed zonation of functions, ranged around human settlements, and recorded by Von
Thunen in his analysis of northern European settlements of the pre-industrial period has the appearance of design, but is in fact an unconscious result of the limitations of that community in its
economy. Such arrays are the patterns forced on the people and landscape, not conscious designs chosen for their relevance to the society and to energy savings.
The formal lawns outside the courts of the Taj are maintained by a crouching group of 20-3C:
widows, equipped with small knives to cut the grass, and forced to this undignified labour by the
need to maintain the status of (deceased) nobility, by those who admire such status. The patient
hedger and gardener of Britain tugs his forelock and clips away at the hedges of the nouveaux
riches, and the council employee tends the public parks and gardens for their public status value
only. This ‘design’ orientation is a forcing of nature and landscape into a salute to wealth and
power, and has no other purpose or function.
The only thing that such designs demonstrate is that power can force men and women and
plants to waste their energies in controlled, menial and meaningless toil, much as the home
gardener, in his front garden, tries to keep up a pale imitation of the same high status. But in this
case, of course, he is the schizoid serf as well as the feudal lord, following his lawnmower and
wielding his hedge clippers, contorting roses and privet into fanciful and meaningless topiary, as a
witness to a deprived and stunted education.
Our landscapes and houses accurately reflect our world-concept and self-concept; they thus
rarely show any concession to functional or utilitarian principles. Church and school grounds
demonstrate the same senseless and wasteful land use, and reassure their audiences and supporters that status is all, that usefulness has neither place nor meaning in this world.
One of my favourite true stories is that of a man in Burnie (Tasmania) who dared plant cabbages on his “nature strip”- that sacred and formal area in front of his house. Having thus
demonstrated his lack of the sense of fitness of things, he was sharply reminded of his error when
the !oca! council sent trucks and men to uproot the vegetabies (which were mereiy usefui,
therefore of no aesthetic or design value). I must, in all fairness, say that this occurred in 1977. By
1979 the council and others nearby had tentatively commenced to plant yielding fruit and nut
species in their public parks.
Granted, there are many examples of shade trees, but it is a poor tree that does not, in any case,
give shade as part of its yield to man and the earth. Granted too that more sophisticated
understanding of plant nutrition led to the evolution of crop rotation, or to the traditional “high
farming” of the west, which is an example of conscious design in space and time, using plants and
animals in sensible succession to restore soils to health. King5 in his book, gives many examples of
the achievements of eastern peoples in labour-intensive permanent agricultures. Many of them
also demonstrating great ingenuity in “stacking” plant systems for greater yield in the same area.
But a very recent book by Fukuoka3 takes this a great step further, and beyond that described
by Phillip and Young’, who still rely on heavy applications of herbicides (mainly 2-4D) and fertilizer to achieve their no-tillage broadacre cropping of grains and pulses. Thus, there are signs of
better ‘plants for plants’ design, and this will, no doubt, soon become more sophisticated and
more widely used on economic and health grounds alone.
There are two elements to good permaculture design that are basic. The first says where we are
going, the second how we get there. The first deals with principles, the management of natural
elements to the advantage of man and the environment, the second is more closely allied to practical gardening and farming procedures. As examples, windbreak shape, species and placement
fall under the first, and mulching, manuring, or soil improvement under the second,
Once design begins, the essentials for an ongoing evolution are:
0 observation of the result; and
0 control or steering to the desired end, or to a new evolution.
In complex systems, where animals and plants interact, even computers fail to cope with the
number of variables, or account for the worm, the robin, the soil, and their total relationship.
Only the careful human observer can cope with this sort of assessment. Quite small adjustments
to the system may have the effect of turning disaster into triumph, or invasion into retreat. These
are the strategies of evolution in a man-made system.
Good teachers have nothing to give but enthusiasm to learn; they cannot with the best will in
the world, give their students knowledge. Thus it is design proper rather than design technique
which I am concerned with here. Yeoman? is a master of design; Fukuoka’ is a master of
“Man can maximise economic and social stability by departing from monoculture of large
land tracts insofar as it is possible, so that complexity of trophic food webs is maximised.”
-Watt I4
Any good overall landscape design should leave options open for further refinements, so that
the initial placement of structures, earthworks, and plants is so arranged that any other alternative energy system is still available for later inclusion. In short, don’t cut out the sun as a source
of energy, and keep the water running downhill; store it in the soil, and release it clean. Let heated
air and water rise, as they will, and forget about pumps to force the reverse of natural flows.
The criteria for such designs are those that can now be applied by all landscape professionals
and agricultural or architectural advisors. Not to do so is a betrayal not only of the clients, but of
the future, when maintenance costs may well exceed by factors of IO or so times the initial cost of
establishing a garden, farm, parkland, home, factory or school building. Clients too need to
check on these criteria:
* Passive energy systems;
adequate climate control on site;
future developments planned;
provision for food self-sufficiency on site;
minimal external energy needs;
* wastes safely disposed of on site;
low-maintenance structures and grounds;
0 water supply assured, conserved; and
0 fire, cold, excess heat and wind factors controlled and directed.
The simple way to check on any design is to ask “Why did you put that structure (or plant)
there? ’ ’
We have reached the conclusion that any analysis of yield in permaculture needs several considerations. We have, for instance:
* product and intrinsic yields (variety and amount of crop);
0 design yields (the channelling and conservation of energy);
interaction of permaculture and other systems (dwellings) in the matter of energy transfer and
conservation; and
0 social and health yields.
Thus the total yield relies much more on our design and therefore our knowledge and intellect
than it does on the energy available within the system. Even in the matter of product yield, it is
our design of edge, species and placement that may determine the amount of yield, for at the
edges of trial plots sampled for ‘yield’ the production of grain increases dramatically (Dr P.
Jones, Sydney Univ. Agric. and Hort , , in conversation) and it is we who determine the amount of
edge in the system.
We also determine the broad arrangement of species relative to sun and wind energies, and our
level of use of the system. In total, the energy saved, generated and conserved is a complex
and we may always see a new way to design additionai yields as we evolve more complex systems. This is particularly true if we use low-grade heat from the sun, industry and power
stations to increase pond and glasshouse yields of food and fuel species, instead of letting such
energies run to waste.
In early stages, real needs have to be met and adverse environments modified. But always:
0 the first priority is planning;
the second that of human needs;
0 the third that of energy * conservation;
Q and almost as a result of these, environmental modification by designs and structures.
Provision for future energy conservation systems must be left open, so that the whole site is
marked out for wind, tide, water, or sun systems. Even if these cannot be implemented in the first
few years, the space is ‘reserved’ under annual crop or short term use.
When it comes to implementation:
0 the first structures and designs should be those that generate energy;
@ the seconci, those which save energy;
* and only finally, those which consume energy.
Priorities are fairly easily settled by matching them up to a set of criteria which is currently important and often reviewed, because’hs r.i;n~ goes by, conditions change.
Later, some commercial and ‘luxury’ planning may be possible, after basic needs are satisfied.
Very long term planning in communities could then centre on diversification and specialization
into medicinal, dye, basic chemical and fuel provision, Few of us begin however, without having
to borrow energy as food, fuel, medicine, or even manure.
In all our planning, the main aim should be to achieve a synergy, so that everything that can be
together is put together, works together, and helps each other- “Every unit has many uses: every
use is achieved in many ways”-a
fail-safe system.
*I’m talking here of total energies,total in that they include all energiesof input, processingand output. For example
labour, materials, harvesting, yields, refining, transport, packaging, storage, marketing, etc., are all possible energies
involved in a system(commercial).
SeePertt?acwlture One sect. 2.8, p. 8-9. Ref. 19, and Goldsmith (et alia), Blueprint for Survival, Ecologist 1972.
Applying such criteria, many questions will answer themselves, for example:
Where should I build my glasshouse?
On consideration of energy alone, the answers are obvious:
first, against dwellings as heat sources and stores, and to grow food;
second, against non-dwelling structures, as heat sources;
thirdly, as part of animal housing, with heat, manure and gas exchange;
and only finally, or perhaps never in sensible terms, as free-standing, all-glazed structures.
How should I deal with wind which prevents my growing on site?
0 First, by planting any tree or shrub, useful or not (wormwood, pampas, pine, coprosma,
thorn) that is cheap or free locally, grows very quickly, can be quickset or grown from large
rooted cuttings or divisions, and that will survive;
0 second, by structures, especially trellis, loose or dry-stone wall, ditch, bank, and small
hedgerow throughout the garden;
0 third, by broadscale quickset or seedling planting of hardy species;
0 and lastly, by useful permanent hedge planted under the protection of the above strategies,
What is worth main-cropping?
Only a few plant species are worth extensive main cropping. Ignoring the commercial value for
the moment, there are three main considerations:
1 main crop which needs little attention after establishment (potatoes, corn, pumpkin);
2 and which is easy to harvest, store and use;
3 also, may form a staple in diet.
Thus, potatoes, corn, pumpkin (for seed and flesh) again. Grain only if grown in small plots on
the Fukuoka’ system.
Commercially, we should also consider crops of:
4 high economic value, even if they are difficult to harvest (strawberries, raspberries);
5 or hard to keep (melons, peaches):
6 or rare but in wide demand, (ginseng, asparagus);
7 or particularly suited to site (cactus, fig, water chestnut, cranberry), say a gentle slope to the
north where few variables are encountered. “Real” landscape is dealt with in following sections.
About the same criteria should apply to tree crops; they can always be interplanted with annual
crop while time passes, thus in the above number series:
1 would be plums, hardy fruits and vines;
2 would be nuts and easily dried fruits;
3 would be nuts again, and high food value fruits;
4 would be cherries, crocus for saffron;
5 would be ‘local’ soft fruits like paw-paw, raspberries;
6 would be spices and medicines, dyes, and oils;
7 would be sugar maple, cider gum, pistachios, etc.
In the realm of practical, on-the-ground design, we are very often working without any
precedents, and in these cases common sense, observation, good research into species, and the
necessary physical principles are our only guides. But the designer should ever be alert to local
phenomena and special features, endeavouring to turn what is already in place to advantage,
rather than to bring in new structures, and hence, new energy.
(See also pp. 49-57 in Permaculfure One)
The whole key to efficient energy planning (which is, in fact, efficient economic planning) is the
zonation and radial or sectoral placement of plants, animal ranges, and structures. The only
modifiers are local factors of market, transport routes (access), slope, local climatic quirks, areas
of special interest, such as flood plains or rocky hillsides, and special soil conditions, such as hard
laterites or swamp soils. As all of these local effects are dealt with later, I shall concentrate here
on the way to zone and plan for an “ideal” site, say, a gentle slope to the north where few
variables are encountered. “Real” landscape is dealt with in the following sections.
Table 2.1
Some factors which change in zone planning as distance incfeases.
Zone II
Zone III
Zone IV
House climate
Small domestic
Main crop.
stock and orchard
Fuclor or Strategy
Zone I
Main design for:
stored food
Spot mulch and
Soil con-
tree guards
Soil conditioning
green mulch
of trees
cup or
built trellis
Seedlings, thinned
selected varieties
trees and plants
Water provision
selected dwarf
or multi-graft
well, bore,
seedlings for
later grafts
by browse
to selected
or managed
Earth tank and
Water storage
Dams, rivers,
fire control
in soils,
and wind pumps
Feed store,
Field shelter grown
barns, poultry
and woodlot
1 How to PlaceElementsin Zones
Now, there is no doubt at all that the place to start is at the doorstep.
If you do not have the doorstep controlled, there is not much hope for the bark paddock, or the
back fence.
Zoning, (distance from centre) is decided on two factors:
(a) the number of times you need to visit the plant, animal or structure;
(b) the number of times the plant, animal or structure needs you to visit it.
For example, on a yearly basis, we might visit the poultry shed:
for eggs, 365 times;
+ for manure, 20 times;
for watering, 50 times;
for culling, 5 times;
other, 20 times.
,(‘ *,,.
Total = 460 visits; whereas one might visit an oak tree twice only, 10 collec[ acorns. Thus rhc
zones are “frequency zones for visits, or “time” zones, however you like IO define them. The
more visits needed, the closer the objects need lo be. As another example, you need a fresh lemon
60-100 times a year, but the tree needs you only 6-12 times a year, a total of 66 to 112 times. For
an apple tree, where gathering is less, the total may be 15 times visited.
Beginning from the backyard again, we can range out from the doorstep as follows:
or, on a larger scale, a small farm (See Fig. 2.3)
The golden rule is to develop the nearest area first, get it under control, and then expand the
perimeter. Too often, the novice selects a garden away from the house, and neither reaps the
plants efficiently, nor cares for them well enough. Any soil gives a good garden, so stay close to
the home.
Stabilization and uti!ization of landscape is a moral issue with global implications. The sight of
poverty-stricken nomads following huge goat flocks is an end-game in the environmental
management strategy, as is a row of harvesting machines, a rabbiter with a pack of mongrel dogs,
and giant logging trucks. Ail are variations on the theme of biological extinction.
It is our firm belief that if one cannot maintain or improve a system one should leave it alone,
thus minimising damage and preserving complexity. If we do not regulate our own numbers and
appetites, and the area we occupy, nature will do so for us, by famine, erosion, poverty and
disease. What we call political and economic systems stand or fall on our ability to conserve the
natural environment. Closer regulation of available land plus very cautious use of natural systems
is our only sustainable future strategy. Perhaps we should control only those areas we can
establish, maintain and harvest by small technologies as a form of government on ourselves, and
our appetites. This predicates that settlements should always include total food provision, or else
we risk the double jeopardy of sterile city and delinquent landscape, a fatal combination, where
city, forest and farm are all neglected and lack even the basic resources for self-sufficiency.
Time, like area, is a resource (as any farmer knows). Just as we can over-extend III area, so tic
can in time. This is the very basis of zonarion planning in permaculture; It becomes critical dh d
matter of time conservation, to tend to the land nearest to one, not to commute too tar, and thus
centralise on settlement. Very close attention should be given to the nature of activities and
distance, or we may run out of tir ne for control, and hence lose yield and stability.
..-, ‘-
-.-i,.: .
’ ‘A.,
Sector planning is also dealt with in Permaculture One.’ The factors to sketch out on a ground
plan are:
fire danger sector
@ cold winds
hot, salty, or dusty winds
screening of nearby irksome views
winter and summer sun angles and
reflection from ponds.
With zones and sectors sketched in on the ground plan, slope analysis may proceed. High and
low entries or access roads, the former for heavy cargo or mulch, the latter for fire control, can
now be placed. Provision for attached glasshouse, hot air collector, reflection pond, solar pond,
and shadehouse should be made at all homestead sites where climatic variation is experienced.
Details of these are given in following sections.
Now, to sum up, there should be no tree, plant, structure, or activity that is not placed according to the criteria and the ground plan. For instance, if we have a pine tree, it goes in Zone IV
(infrequent visits), nw0.v from the fire danger sector (it accumulates fuel and burns like a tar barret), rowarrls cold wind sector (pines are hardy wind breaks), and it should bear edible nuts as
Again, if we want to place a small structure such as a poultry shed, it should border Zone I (for
frequent visits), be away from the fire sector, border the annual garden (for easy manure collection), back onfo the forage system, possibly attach to a greenhouse, and form part of a windbreak
There is no mystery nor any great problems in such commonsense design systems. It is a matter
of quietly bringing to consciousness the essential factors of passive planning. To restate the basic
energy-conserving rules:
0 “No placement without the element (plant, animal or structure) serving at least two or more
a “Every function (water collection, fire protection) served in two or more ways.”
With the foregoing rules, strategies, and criteria in mind, you can’t go far wrong in design.
the hiiltop he coaxes water out of its course, and it slides over smooth pebbles whispering hoarsely and soothes the parched field with its purling.”
Fig. 2.6 shows a broad landscape profile, typical of many humid tropical to cool climates,
which we can use as a model to demonstrate some of the principles oi’ landscape analysis. The
high plateaus (A) or upper erosion surface, where snow is stored, trees and shrubs prevent quick
run-off, and where the headwaters of streams seek to make sense of a sometimes indefinite slope
pattern, gives way to the steep upper slopes (B), rarely (or catastrophically) of use to agriculture
per se, but often cleared of protecting forest and subject to erosion because of this.
The lower slopes (C) are potentially very productive mixed agricultural areas, and well suited to
the structures of man, his domestic animals, and his implements. Below this are the gentlydescending foothills and plains (D) where cheap water storage is available as large shallow dams,
and extensive cropping can take place.
This simplified landscape should itself dictate several strategies for permanent use, and
demands of us a careful analysis of techniques to be used on each area.
The main concern is water, as it is both the chief agent of erosion and the source of life in plants
and animals. Thus the high plateau is a vast roof where rain and snow gather, winds carry
saturated cloud to great heights, and at night the saturated air deposits droplets on the myriad
leaves and surfaces of plants. Prof. W. D. Jackson, (Univ. of Tas., in conversation) by using condensation screens on high humid lands, estimates that perhaps 85% of precipitation condenses
from the night air on the myriad leaf surfaces of the plateaus.
Trickling down, this moisture needs soft soils and humus to retain it and govern the floods and
droughts that plague barren landscapes. Rocks, if covered by soil and plants, do not release so
much salt into the water, and trees act as pumps which keep the water table from surfacing on the
plains and so creating salt pans.
Such fragile systems, often precariously in balance because of slow plant growth, must be
guarded from over-grazing and soil loss if most water is to be saved for power generation and
agriculture lower down. The best usage is therefore careful husbandry of all elements, and a
watch on delinquent usage; it involves the management or culling of severe browsers (as for deer
in New Zealand), and the planting or maintenance of as many trees, shrubs and ground cover as
possible to trap and hold moisture. Of all areas, this high catchment is the most critical to the national or continental well-being. Vandalism by ski-resort developers, high-country graziers and
should be reduced to a minimum.
public “authorities”
The high slopes (E) are of next importance to the general hydrological cycle, and it is in clearing
these that most countries come undone; for the trees that occupy these areas are the groundwater
pumps that prevent the rise of salted water to the surface downslope and thus the salting of soils.
The upper-slope forests are essential to man, reducing cold air flow and the erosion that fills the
lower valleys, thus converting rivers to quagmires and lakes to peat bogs, as has happened in
Europe and Asia.
A moratorium on all clearing or grazing of slopes of 18” or more should be an international
concern, of as much long-term importance as a moratorium on arms. Re-afforestation of slopes
with useful forage and fuel trees, their cautious use by man and his animals, and permanent
forests as buffers to area (C) are the only moral use of steep slopes.
Where we venture (as in Nepal) to clear and terrace such systems, graze off the regrowth, and
attempt the only subsistence left to us (grain terrace culture) catastrophe awaits us. The aerial
view of denuded foothills and valleys that stretch from Yugoslavia to Bengal, the deserts evolving
below them, and the plight of the people pinned into the valley floors, are a witness to our lack of
comprehension of ecqnomies and nations. Here, as in North Africa, man and his goats are the
plague, locusts and deserts follow. World hunger for paper, particularly wrapping paper and
newspaper will only accelerate world famine for food. Even in countries still rich in foothill
world, the same fate awaits as has overtaken the
forests, as in the ‘ ‘developed”
world. We would do better to characterise these as the devastated, defoliated
or stripped ecologies, and those about to be stripped. In West Australia recently a man was gaoled for attempting to blow up a woodchip plant; his act is seen by society as immoral, while the
plant owners, safe in their offices, are unmoved by the devastation they create, protected by the
laws of property, and are, in the long term, the greater vandals. No nation that now exists has environmental laws as strong as those that protect the exploiter.
I‘l-#is may change when people see clearly the environmental traps that await them: when the
agrtculturalist on the plains of Swan Hill, surveying his salting fields lifts his eyes to the foothills
and asks of his fellows what they are doing to the forests that once protected him; of his local
council why men paid by public money are clearing the roadside; of trees, and of his state government why a woodchip development is underway upsldpe.
The gentle foothill country of area (C), brilliantly analysed for water conservation by
Yeomans’, supports the most viable agricultures, where the forest above still exists. Here, the
high ruroff can be led to midslope storage d?ms at the “keypoint”
indicated in Fig. 2.6
(examined in much more detail in Yeomans’ books). Using the high slopes as watershed, and a
series of diversion catchment drains as “spouting” and dams as “tanks”, water is conserved at
the keypoints for later frugal use in fields and buildings, is passed with its nutrients to low dams,
and released as clean water from the site. (This is the ideal: the reality often falls far short of it.)
The lower slopes, those safe to use tractors on at least, can be converted to immense soil-water
storage systems in a very short time (a single summer often suffices). Some data is given in Sections 3 and 7, but Yeomans’ books are the best detailed guide.
Slope gives immense planning advantages; there is hardly a viable human settlement (not supported by the failing petrol economy) that is not sited on those critical junctions of two natural
economies, here the area between foothill forest and plains, elsewhere on the edge of plain and
marsh, land and estuary, or some combination of all of these. Planners who place a housing settlement in a plain, or on a plateau, may have the ‘advantage’ of plain planning, but abandon the
inhabitants to failure if transport fuels dry up, when they have to depend on the natural environment for their varied needs but have only a monocultural landscape. Successful and permanent
settlements have always been able to draw from the resources of at least two environments.
Similarly, any settlement which fails to preserve natural benefits, and, for example, clears all
forests, is bent on eventual extinction.
The easy, rounded ridges of non-eroded lower slopes and their foothill pediments are a prime
site for settlement. They allow filtration of wastes, inseparable from large populations, through
lowland forest and lake, and the conversion of toxic wastes into useful timber, trees, fruits, and
aquatic life. (Fig. 2.7).
The descending slopes allow a variety of aspects, exposures, insolation, and shelter for man to
manage, and give responsible planners all these advantages to design with. Midslope is our easiest
environment, the shelter of forests at our back, the view over lake and plain, and the sun striking
in on the tiers of productive trees above and below. The ancient occupied ‘ridgeways’ of England
testify to the commonsense of the megalithic peoples in landscape planning, but their present
abandonment for industrial suburbs in flatlands does little credit to the Paleolithic planning of
modern designers. The difference may be that the former planned for themselves, the latter do
designs for other people.
The plains of area (D) are the most resistant to water damage (except for evaporated salt), and
the most open to wind erosion. The red and dusty rains and the plagues of locusts that fall on all
nearby lands are a result of the delinquent use of the plough, heavy machinery, and clean tillage
of these flattish lands, together with the removal of trees and hedgerows, and the conversion of
the plains to a monoculture of extensive grazing and grain cropping. It is here that water is most
cheaply stored, in soil and in large surface dams, where no-tillage crops, copses and hedgerows
are desperately needed; and where broad-scale revolutions in technique can be implemented to
improve soil health, reduce wind and water losses, and produce healthy foods.
Even on the arable lands, and especially in tropical areas, scattered leguminous trees (at about
lo-12 per ha.) greatly assist in nutrient recycling and soil stability (see Paulsen”), so that cropland
should present the appearance of a scattered forest with copses, rather than that of a windswept
So much for the very broadscale analysis, although the same sense applies to any small property that includes a reasonable slope. Local modifications are to use the flat plateaus at midslope,
or the flattish tops of minor ridges as fields and pasture.
of Slope 1
(Farms and small settlements)
Figs. 2.7 and 2.8 illustrate some ideal relationships of structures and functions, given that there
is a reasonable slope. Starting from the plateau or ridge:
“Turkey nests”, or storage dams, can be placed here to take overflow from high tanks, which rely on the roof catchment of barns, workshops, stores, meeting halls, etc., all of which consume
little water but have large roof areas for catchment. Diversion channels around high ridges serve
the same purpose.
In emergencies such as fire or drought water from the valley lake or large-volume storage at
lower levels can be pumped to the higher tanks or dams. All covered tanks at this high level are
very useful, and these can in fact be built as the basement or foundation of the buildings, thus
forming a heat/cold buffer in the sub-floor of workshops. A small standby fire pump, or a
mobile fire pump can use these in emergencies. Water from covered tanks is guaranteed free of
biological pollution, and should be reserved strictly for drinking water at lower levels, the settlement area.
Bulk domestic water (showers, toilets, etc.) can be supplied from the high dams on the keyline,
or above it. These can be refilled where needed from the valley dam, and used on the midslope
Above the keyline, particularly on rough, rocky and dry sites, there should be careiul selection
of dry-country permaculture needing ‘spot’ watering only for establishment. On lower sites
choose plants with higher water requirements (see also Fig. 5.3).
At the dwellings, small tanks for emergency supply are needed (ca. 22,Oo 1 for a family of 5)
and the dwelling sited behind the lower dams or lakes for fire protection (fire is most intense when
advancing upslope). Waste water, run to a series of small pondings, provides valuable algae and
nutrients for low gardens, duck food, and fish food.
A factor often left unplanned is the high slope access, either as track or road. Such access can
embody drainage or diversion to midslope dams, fire control on slopes, and cargo or harvest-time
access to forest and to service buildings, Often enough, on small properties, the mulch and
manures from high barns and forests can be easily moved downhill to establish the barn-to-house
garde.1. Slatted floors under upslope shearing sheds, goatsheds, and stables enable dry storage
and easy access to manures.
The forests on the high slopes, coupled with the “thermal belt” (see Pemacu/!rrre One) of the
house site make a remarkable difference to midslope climate and soil temperatures. Anyone who
doubts this should walk towards an uphill forest on a frosty night, and measure or experience the
warm down-draught from high forests. If these are above Zones I and II, they present little or no
fire danger. Their other functions of erosion control and water retention are well attested.
Downslope, reflection from dams (detailed in Permacuhre One) adds to the warmth. Solar
collectors placed here transmit heat, as air or water circulating by thermal siphoning alone, and
assist house, glasshouse or garden to function more efficiently. Even very slight slopes of 1 : 150
or so, function to collect water and heat if well used in design.
While the foregoing sections set the design background, the actual techniques and strategies of
each system are discussed in following sections, and it then remains to fit together the jigsaw of
design using these techniques in establishment and maintenance.
“admire a large estate if you like: but farm a small one.”
We have made perhaps the gravest, or greediest, error of them all: we have over-reached
ourselves. On the farmlands of the northwest coast of Tasmania they speak of a man with too
much land as “land poor”, and he will become the poorer as his holdings increase somewhat like
the greedy fisherman, who catches fish until more fall overboard than he lands. If we could adjust
land to our age, we might be thought of as wise, but we tend to get more land as we get older, and
to treat .it less kindly. The whole earth demonstrates the neglect of husbandry, and the greed of
men for land. Companies too are discovering that large holdings are large liabilities, and these
will become even more so as the petrol pool dries up. Friends recently returned from China,
where 45,000 people existed in a healthy state on some 8000 ha, to find their son in Australia going broke on the same area!
People frequently ask how much land they need for self-sufficiency. The answer is, “As much
as you can control”. Any more and you lose self-sufficiency, let alone the ability to produce an
excess. If people ask “Where do I start?” then the answer is always “At your doorstep”.
If you see a farm where the doorstep leads to weeds, then the weeds will go to the boundary; it
is already out of control. Anybody, farmer or suburbanite, that has not planted a garden at the
back doorstep hasn’t started a permaculture. If 4% of land, that small area around peasant
houses in Russia, produces 60% of the food, what would happen if the peasants were given 8% of
the land? It is that small plot not far from the house that is the most important area to cultivate.
For the farmer, it may mean all the difference as to whether or not he can stay on the farm and
survive market and energy fluctuations. For the suburbanite, it may mean the difference between
survival in comfort or misery.
There is probably some ideal plot, about 750-1000 m2, for the home garden, if one is thinking
in terms of annual agriculture. Less means too little food, more means too much land to control.
But the smaller the managed annual system can become, the more is left for perennial planting
and for free-range animals on forage crop.
What we observe in the western world is a delinquent landscape-the suburban plots under
lawns and cosmetic flowers, and areas of urban blight around cities, more land cleared at the
frontier, and a desperate misuse of land in between. This system is not, in any future terms, sustainable.
At this moment, it seems clear that planning for high labour-intensive food production at the
doorstep is the only way out of future crises. Vegetables can largely supplanr monoculture grains
for human food, as tree crops can largely supplant grains for animal forage. The energy savings
of both these strategies are obvious and necessary.
“The long serpentine trunks of the palm tree rise above every village and about every field.
The fibrous palm has entered almost every facet of the peoples’ lives. It is the first line of
defence against the sun in the open fields, and in its shade grows the olive tree.
Under the olive, the fig grows, and under the fig, the pomegranate and vine, then the grain and
vegetables. The palm tree’s second contribution is dates . . .”
This evocative quote might as well head the section on arid lands, but it is the essential prelude
to consideration of multi-tier agriculture, especially where fierce sun is the enemy. WiIliams does
not intend to present the picture of a forest, where crowded and overshaded plants do not receive
enough light or moisture, but rather one like that portrayed in Fig. 2.12.
My friend Neil Douglas, who gardens like an earth spirit on the shale hillside of summerdroughted Victorian foothills, raises his vines such as pumpkin and beans and places his trees to
cast shade on, rather than to compete with, the myriad plant species which riot in his gsrden. The
illustrations in A Book ofb’,-trthly Delights (Abbie Heathcote, Compendium, 1978) show clearly
how the garden is structured-ecologically
rather than anarchistically, but with an order that is
evolved more than impressed. Such gardens arrive after some years of trials, where species
themselves indicate their preferences, often in defiance of the dictates of literature. It is fortunate
indeed that plants cannot read!
In nature, the rigours of the environment may decide the spacing of plants, the degree of
“stacking” or density of plants. The main limitation may be set by rainfall, and in the desert or
semi-desert there are large areas of bare ground between plants.
It is not difficult to accommodate or design gardens that are more intensive than the natural
system, and our advantage is that we can use several strategies to increase the number of plants
that will fit into an area. These are:
by preventing water loss, building high shade, or hedge and trenched wall systems which
reduce evaporation by wind;
by introducing very drought-resistant species such as cacti, which have a greater resistance to
drought than normal useful plants, especially as windbreak hedges; and
by using vertical, buried sheet-plastic moisture barriers between the garden and the dry soil it
Our ability to take advantage of all the species and cultivars utilized and developed by man in
other places, or at other times, depends directly on our ability to provide the situation (niche)
suited to them. Hence the rationale of modifying existing natural systems or buildings.
“An environment can in this way be made to accommodate many species without competition
between them.” (Watt”). The main modification, and it is a very important one, is that a welloccupied system resists invasion by rampant forms (such as blackbirds and blackberries), so that
the initia! diversity, plus lack qf disturbance are the factors that will preserve the diversitystability dynamism. I cannot stress too much the importance of keeping a small area fully occupied with plants,.as a strategy to reduce work.
It is only at the point that the system begins to “simplify” itself that we need to move in. As a
rough guess, this would need to be at about 60 years for long-lived and large elements, and at increasingly shorter periods for small or short-lived elements. There is no reason, however, why
some elements and many structures should not persist for millennia, and the preservation of
‘edge’* maintains our choice and the persistence of smaller, short-lived and open-situation
The trouble with good books on gardening is that they often treat each species as though it lived alone. Notable exceptions exist in, for instance, the literature on companion plants, and in
isolated papers on plant antagonists. Even to ennumerate some of the inter-relationships between
plants would be a help. Plants then:
* act as trellis to plants (grape on mulberry, fig, boxthorn);
0 screen and shade plants (coffee under palms);
* provide nutrients to plants (comfrey leaves for potato sets);
* cross-fertilize plants (different varieties of plums and nuts);
@ live in obligate relationships with plants (fungi under oaks, pines);
@ reject or accept other plants (see section on companion plants);
@ provide spare parts (grafts) for plants (apple, pear, nut species).
*The “edge effect” is an important factor in permaculture. It is recognisedby ecologiststhat the interface betweentwo
ecosystemsrepresentsa third, more complex systemwhich combines both. At interfaces speciesfrom both systemscan
exist and the edgealso supports its own speciesin many cases.Gross photosynthetic production is higher at interfaces.
For example, the complex systemsof land/ocean interfaces-such as estuaries and coral reefs-shows the highest
production per unit area, of any of the major ecosystems(Kormondy, E. J., Concepts of Ecology. Prentice Hall, New
Jersey, 1959). A landscapewith complex edge is interesting and beautiful; it can be consideredthe basis of the art of
landscapedesign. And most cerainly, increasededgemakes for a more productive landscape.(Permuculture One’, p.
Similar lists can be made for plant-animal, and plant-inorganic element relationships. Obviously,
some of these relationships (e.g. grafting) are functions used by dedicated gardeners. Other\
(nutrient provision) may be the very stuff of permanent agriculture and regional \ut‘t‘icicncy.
Lawrence Hill’s painful warning on the possible dangers of eating comfrey (NW Ecologisr, 1979)
stresses the other uses of such a plant, as a handy liquid or trenched manure, or in medicine. Leucaena, lucerne, and in truth, most legumes (Sect. 3.2) provide essential elements, as may any
vigorous and deep-rooted weed or tree which probes the soil below the leached upper levels. All
material in nature cycles via wind, water, dust, and human or other animal agencies; some plants
and some animals act as catch-nets for rare and essential elements, and can be grown or included
in any garden for that value alone.
In the third world, bags of superphosphate and nitrogen are hard to come by, even though
Coca-Cola is cheap. It is here, especially in the tropics, that deep-rooted and mat-rooted perennials are essential to gardening.
Any system which pretends to be designed must take account of the synergistic nature of plants
and animals, or to put it more simply, place plants and animals in the correct array in order to obtain a third benefit or interaction. Some specific examples are given below.
From the valuable summary of “plant defense guilds” (plants acting to protect plants) by Peter
Atsatt and Dennis O’Dowd (Science, 193, 24-29, July, 1976) we have plants defined as interacting
in the following three ways:
Some plants breed the predators that attack the pests on other plants. These act as insec1
taries or breeding grounds. Thus, Phacelia, planted m orchards, reduces the incidence of the
Prospatella pest. Sorghum or lucerne interplants with cotton, and any umbellifera (dill, fennel) with brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower), strawberries in or near peach orchards, wild
blackberry near grapes, and so on are instanced, often operating on a single pest species, but
also, (as with fennel or dill) attracting or feeding predators that range over a garden eating
many other insects.
Conversely, some plants (Berberis) carry over diseases of others, (rust on grain) and act as reservoirs of re-infection, and so are either contra-indicated, or used deliberately to suppress pest
Plants repel browsers or pests by physical (spines) or chemical (phenols) methods. Rununculus protects grasses from cattle, as the lactone ranunculin irritates the mucous tissue of
herbivores. Similiary, Trifolium fragiferum (a cover) protects white clover from hares. Hard
pressed Aboriginal gardeners cart use Haplopappus tenuirostris to deter or even kill off feral
donkeys and horses, and there are many lists of such poisonous weeds. Even feral goats are
killed by browsing on rhododendron and azalea shoots.
These are then, the defenses of the hapless fellahin against the predaceous nomad flocks and the
incursions of feral or uncontrolled stock into gardens. Olfactory ‘“interference” is invoked to explain why brassicas grown with tomatoes are less attacked by pests, although the alternative explanation in New Scientist (Nov. ‘78) has intriguing possibilities, namely, plants scattered
amongst others appear scattered to the pests, but (once pests breed on them) the “scattered”
plants, surrounded as they are by other and insectary species, appear to the predator as concentrated food sources. At any rate (and computer studies aside) the dispersal of plants among other
and varied species leads to far less pest infestation in all cases studied.
Shade cast by plants may protect insects or other plants from predator attack. Atsatt and
O’Dowd instance the protection of Klamath weed from leaf-eating bettles, and (Peter Ebbsworth, in conversation) the shade cast on ponds by fringing trees protects mosquito larvae from
those efficient predators, the notonectids or backswimmers. So, it can be seen that every factor
can be used both for and against species survival.
Attractant or decoy plants may draw off pests from others, and even reduce the pest. So
Nepenthes (catmint) has a fatal attraction to cats. A friend of mine once kept a Powerful
Owl in a large-mesh cage. It ate the cats which came to kill it. Thus Nepenthes plus owls may
prove a lethal combination for feral cats! Atsatt and O’Dowd record that Solanum (S.
nigrum, etc.) grown with potatoes attracted egg masses of the Colorado beetle as a lethal
decoy. These attractants plus some mechanical trap device or trap-yards can remove or immobilize many animals or insects coming to plants. Wallaby in Tasmania are attracted to
“wallaby wood (Pittosporum bicolor), and mea! flies to the malodiferous At-urn decrunculus or “dead donkey” lily. Gladiolus will trap and clear up onion rot, by preventing
fungus sporulation.
It is of particular interest to note that alternate or interplanting of non-resistant and resistant plants prevent the build-up of pests, rather than the endless chase for more resistant
varieties. I have grown spring and summer broad beans, not for food but to attracl aphis,
and hence their predators.
The end conclusion of the Science paper is of great interest, in that “a little powerful diversity”
of the right kind is the key component of stability. And so we may ourselves design and
strengthen the “plant defense guilds” which naturally exist, if we can define the ways in which
these work, as above. So much for these interactions, but there are other strategies, some more
direct,‘others less so, for instance:
0 Plants in obligate or beneficial root, or gaseous, contact.
Apples and dandelions release the essential ethylene gas that causes pineapples and bananas IO
ripen, or ripening to occur. Quandong can germinate and establish only in root association with
another plant. Marigolds prevent nematode attack on citrus roots, and so on.
a Plants produce toxic or hostile condilions for other plants.
Deep shade under Coprosma prevents weed establishment, phenols produced by bracken,
walnuts, pine trees, act as growth inhibitors for other plants, and grasses secrete substances which
kill young trees. All these factors can be used gainfully, or be nullified by design.
Then there are manurial or elcrnental factors to consider, especially in remote gardens:
@ Species such as comfrey and coprosma provide potash for potatoes (as mulch or trenched
9 Species such as tree lucerne or Leucaena provide the essential nitrogen as mulch, and smaller
legumes provide nitrogen also, by root nodulation. (See also Co-Evolurion Quarter/y, Autumn,
1978 for such design work.)
Physical factors such as shelter, shade, reflection, or water usage interact plant to plant, with
some plants being essential to others as windbreak, shade, host, or nurse species. Many ‘rampant’
plants nurse others to maturity.
The observant gardener can see for h.imself how plants benefit in association, while the
mindless monoculturist tries to maintain simplicity at great cost to himself and his land.
Newman Turner’j is the text for observant graziers- a man who observed his cattle. By
deliberately including medicinal and vermifuge plants in pasture, he kept his stock healthy despite
themselves, and there are now very good books on herbal medicines to guide the designer.
A number of boc?s also exist which give suspecpinformation,
such as those which advocate
garlic as a repellent to cabbage moth. As garlic is planted when the moth hibernates (in autumn),
it may be said to have had a truly cosmic effect (the moth disappears when you plant
fairy stories are abroad.
However, many reasons for planting plants for other plants sake do exist, as I have tried to
show in this section, and even if devasand fairies do operate, so do more mundane effects. Permaculturists can look on garden design as an intellectual exercise, with many more moves i:nd infinitely more pieces than man or computer can deal with. Unhappily, many farmers are un.;porting enough to out-poison rather than out-think their opponents (and customers) but good
farmers are always good observers, and can strengthen the chance alliances they find at work, and
allow weaker associations to wither if they will.
1 Anir-nalc
It is clearly impossible, outside of sterile laboratory situations, to exclude animals from
agriculture. Whether they are termed pests, soil micro-organisms, domestic animals or wildlife
they will enter and be part of any system. Like plants, animals have suffered from the
monoculture or mono-intellectual approach. Regarded as a source of meat, furs, hides or eggs
only, they have been forced to a high-energy productivity, resulting in disease and low-quality or
dangerous products contaminated with food additives, hormones and saturated fats.
The question, then, is-how should they be utilized? In permaculture we must try to use an element in all its energy functions, and the unique thing about animals is that they provide useful
products from materials which are otherwise inaccessible to man. Thus animals can be used as:
0 producers of meat; fibres, eggs, down, etc., grown from materials of little direct use to man;
0 providers of high quality manures, again often from the wastes of man;
0 pollinators of plants and as foragers, collecting dispersed materials from a permaculture;
0 heat sources, radiating body heat for use in enclosed systems such as greenhouses and barns;
. gas producers (CO, and methane) again for use in enclosed systems such as greenhouses and
0 tractors, which dig soils. Poultry, pigs and fish are efficient soil-turning, weeding and manuring machines for enclosed spaces or small allotments;
0 draught animals (in all capacities) operating pumps and vehicles;
0 pioneer bulldozers for clearing and manuring difficult areas prior to planting;
* as pest control mechanisms, devouring pupae and eggs of pests in fallen fruit, or in trees and
0 concentrators of specific nutrients useful to man, such as nitrogen and phosphates from flies
and wasps;
0 cleansing filters for water; and
0 short grazers aiding in fire control.
To Take advantage of these many functions we need only to design by controlling numbers and
All animal populations produce a surplus from natural increase, where they are managed as
breeders. Like a crowded forest, too many animals on an area become non-productive, thus
dense fish populations in lakes or rivers cannot put on growth and dense mammal or bird populations are self-thinned by starvation, crowding stress, or consequent disease and epidemic mortalityMost selection pressures of this nature operate on young or very old animals, much as children
and aged people in human populations are the first to suffer in famine or social disruption. This
points up the fallacy of “minimum size” regulations in sedentary fisheries, where small fish are
“thrown back” to grow. We should throw back the breeders and utilize the small fish. No farmer
could survive if he killed breeding cattle, and no fishery will thrive under the same mismanagement.
If we do not cull animal species, nature will do so for us-mostly as catastrophic population
crashes due to overcrowding. To exclude animals from agricultural areas is to kill them in [he long
term, and just as man himself is decomposed by bacteria and worms, so he can act as a decomposer in the matter of surplus animals.
So long as we manage animals, whether domestic or wild species, we can maintain healthy
breeding populations. The emphasis in this book is on free range foraging, so that any animal is
used in all its functions, not penned or restricted by energy-expensive means. There are, however
religious or moral reasons not to kill animals, and ecological reasons not t.o rear them on expensive grain crops. The value of many animal species is that they can utilise foods (insects, windfalls, cellulose) not otherwise utilised by man, and their essential role in the tropics is to ‘detour’
the leaves of trees and monsoon grasses to nutrient-rich
and available manures. Rank grasses
may swamp man and gardens if not controlled by browsing species, and we can therefore see how
religious proscription has (in its native climate) a sound ecological basis, in that cattle in monsoon
areas are an essential adjunct to agriculture. Such restrictions do not, however, transplant well to
every climate, and we should adopt a local morality.
Plants wirhout animal foragers are like strawberries without cream, or men without women. In
this sense, they too “hold up half the sky” and are always in beneficial interplay with plant
species. Just as we can assemble plant sequences, so we can assemble beneficial associations of
animal species, and integrate plant with animal systems to mutual advantage. Thus, almost every
statement we have made about plants can be made about animals, and to complicate matters we
can use plant-animal structure interactions, some of which are outlined in section 8.
Bare soil is damaged soil and occurs only where man or introduced animals have interfered
with the natural ecological balance. Once soil has been bared it is susceptible to further damage
by the elements (sun, wind or water, or a combination of these) or mvasidn by flatweeds. Thus,
the use of the conventional plough in cultivation not only damages soil life processes, but may
cause more extensive soil losses. The three main approaches to minimal soil loss in agriculture are:
growing forests and shrubberies to protect the soil;
using ploughs that do not turn the soil; and
0 encouraging life forms, especially worms, to aerate compacted soils.
All of these processes have the same result-soil aeration and safe nutrient addition. In order,
they are termed re-afforestation, soil conditioning, and mulching or composting. The first two
deal with large areas, the last with small areas. Forestry and soil conditioning produce their own
mulch, while mulch can be applied to small gardens.
Often, the pest plants of which we complain (lantana, capeweed, blackberry, mullein, thistle
and so on) are the attempts of damaged soil to produce a plant mat that will prepare the way for
fores1 or crop. They are an indication that damage has occurred, that we have gone too far and
have lost control of the land.
The initial step taken by the Chinese, setting out on their great work of desert reclamation, is to
mat the dunes with willow and straw. The trees follow, weaving a mat of roots and leaves that
stop water and wind erosion, and even (in the case of bamboo root ‘rafts’) moderate the effect of
earthquakes on their dwellings.
Both P. A. Yeomans and Geoff Wallace (of the Kiewa Valley) have evolved broadscale
management of soils, to return them to productive and stable use. Neither have been knighted,
made national heroes, nor even invited to take up chairs at leading universities concerned with the
environment, but that is to be expected. Australia ignores her innovators and sends instead for
overseas experts.
The importance of Keyline, and the tools developed by both Yeomans and Wallace, is that concreted, unproductive and sterile soil may be quickly rehabilitated. Using either Yeomans’
“Bunyip Slipper Imp Shakaerator” or “Wallace’s Soil Conditioner” or both, the result is that
compacted soil is lifted gently (not turned over or reversed) aerated and loosened. Rain penetrates
and is. absorbed; soil temperatures rise, roots grow and die to make humus; weak carbonic acid
from air, rain and roots dissolves nutrients from the ground, and the country comes to life again.
Apart from an initial top-dressing of phosphate or grossly deficient trace elements, no further
top-dressing is used. When, after a few treatments, a black soil has redeveloped to 9” deep, trees
and crops can be planted with assured success, and in the case of tree crops, the treatment gives
permanent rehabilitation. I cannot think of a single political decision which is as important as the
decision of such men to restore soil, for it is the products of the soil that allows politicians to survive, as Sir Albert Howard has so clearly demonstrated*‘. Such achievements should be available
to the world, and their inventors set free as national teachers, to broadcast their skills where they
are needed in the third world.
Both Wallacq and Yeomans have shown that in a matter of two or three years, soils which take
a century to evolve under forest can be recreated by man. Wallace has recorded temperature rises
of up to 11 “C in soils under his reconditioned forest. Yeomans has shown how “water for every
farm” (and clean water at that) is a result of Keyline. Clean water and healthy soil: these are the
foundations of human and social health. Forget chlorination and the welfare state and go to the
heart of the problem-the
basic resources of a nation. Howard 21 has enough to say about the
. .
. .
If nations
Lvould set a goal for soil health, the cjrhcr situation\ \\ hic’ll plague us \\i>ulci rrw1\,e
themselves, and a sustainable philosophy \~~~uld develop. I nwnlic~n
because uninformed people think that organic or rchabilirari~~r nlc~!~~~cl~ ml bc applied
small-scale projects. Given men like those mcntioncd, we LXNII~ rchal.iliratc ;I nation.
and others achic\,c Mith the chisel pi~~ug~l a112 ilo-till;tgc iilc~~tlaIli/atic,rl,
What Yeonla~~s
dots with deep-rooted plants such as the Japancsc radish and IIILTI-nc. htl his sysrcm
has not htxm compacted by heavy machinery or domestic htoil\ I:\c~II \II’OII s 10~~14 ~‘;II~I!Ol ot‘rtm
01‘ the shakacratcr i\ necdcd I‘or I hi\ cvlrtmw
break 1117hard pans, and the vibrating aclion
011~ rhc soil i4 on the way back to health, it is time IO plarrr Irc’c :it~d t’icld crcjps. A sIIInnlcr
spent on bringing the soil to life is not a summer \I.astlad, for II-CC’s rc:sp~~ncl IIiorc \ isc,I-oiisly
to lhc
and make up t’o~ !dsl 111ne in a single scx5on: an cj!i\ c or carob struggling to
u)il wndit
in iInpro\,ed
,ur\.i\c ill the original condition of compacted \oil makes 90 cm - 1.I! n1 grL,\flh
;~nci may \icll bear in three or l’our years instead of 17-1X b’cars 0: more.
To summaricc briefly, the results of soil rchabilitarion are ;I’~ follo\\s:
GB living soil: earth worms add alkaline manure and act as li\,inf plungers, sucking down air and
hcncc nit ropcn;
0 friable and open soil through which water penetrate3 easily as weak carh~~nic and hllnlic’ a~icl.
freeing soil elements for plants, and buffering pH changes;
0 aerated soil, which ctays warmer in winter and cooler in summer;
+D the absorbent soil itself is a great water-retaining blanket, preventing run-ijt‘t’ and rapid
evaporation to the air. Plant material soaks up night moisture for later ukt‘;
a dead roots as plant and animal food, making more air spaces and ILI~IWI\ in rhc%\oil, anti t‘ising nitrogen as part of their decomposition cycle;
0 easy root penetration of new plantings, wheiher these are annual or perennial crop\; and
a a permanent change in the soil, if it is not again trodden, roiled, pounc!~J, ploughed or
chemicalized into lifelessness.
Trees, of course, act as long-term or inbuilt nutrient pumps, laying clan their minerals as
leaves and bark on the soil, where fungi and soil ciustacea make the lea\‘es’into mulch.
Wallace has produced a soil conditioner of great effecti\,eness. A circular Coulrcr \lirh rhe
ground, which must be neither too dry nor too wet, and the slit is followed by a \recl \hoe which
opens the ground up to form an air pocket without turning the soil over. (See Plate\ I and 2.)
Seed cnn be dropped in thin furrows, and beans or corn seeded in thil; way grow thrx~ugh the gra{s
to make a bumper harvest. No fertilizer or trop-dressing is needed, onl:~~the beneficial cft’ect ot
~ntl~ap~~edair beneath the earth, and the follow-up work of soil life and planr roots on the reopened soil.
Graphic illustration of the effects of such measures on soil temperatures occur on frosty nights.
Aerated soils are frost free while compacted soils are easily flosted. Wallace clearly demonstrates
this effect by growing ‘tropical’ crops in his Kiewa Valley farm, only 40 miles from the snowtine
in winter.
There is only one rule in the pattern of this sort of ‘ploughing’ and that is to drikc your tractor
or team slightly downhill, making herring-bones of rhe land: the spines are the valley3 and the ribs
slope out and down-slope. As Geoff says: “Even a child can keep a machine travclling slightly
downhill.” The soil channels, many hundreds of them, thus become the easiest ~vay for water to
move, and it moves olrt from the valleys and below the surface of the soil. Because the surface ix
little disturbed, roots hold against erosion even after fresh ‘ploughing’, water soak\ in and Iit’c
processes are speeded up. A profile of soil conditioned by this process is illustrated in Fig. 3. I
Wallace sees no point in going more than 100 mm in first treatment, and to 150-225 mm in
subsequent treatments. The roots of plants, nourished by warmth and air, will then penetrate to
30 cm or 50 cm in pasture, more in forests. For disposal of massive sewage waste-water, Yeomans
recommends ripping to 90 cm or 1.5 m, and a trial of this system is being made at Maryborough
(Vie.) below sewage lagoons.
I have scarcely seen a property that would not benefit by soil conditioning as a first step before
any further design input. Only very stony or sandy soils cannot be effectil,ely treated (here soil
treatment is mainly by biological means) but it can in fact be used on football ovals to prevent
soggy compaction without seriously interfering with usage. In the same way, pasture and crop do
not go out of production as they do under bare earth ploughing with conventional tools, and the
iife processes suffer very little interruption.
For small gardens of compacted earth, Yeomans recommends driving in a heavy fork and gently levering the soil until it cracks open.
Until I read Fukuoka’, there was no satisfactory basis, to my mind, for including grain and
legume crops in permaculture, but the system outlined in The One-Struw Revolutim (Rodale,
1975), seems to have solved the problems of no-dig grain cultivation. Both P. A. Yeomans and
David King of Nimbin also recommend the work of G. F. Van der Muelen, a tropical agronomist
who has published The Ecological Methods for Perrnment Land Use in the Tropics, available
from Ranonnkelstraat 119, The Hague, Netherlands. Van der Muelen uses, for example, the lablab bean (Dolichos k&-lab) under Borassus palm as a perennial system; a friend of Yeomans uses
lab-lab with barley to great effect in annual grain culture.
In brief,
the system combines
the usual
of legume/grain/root
into a single grain/legume mixed crop. There is every reason to do
the same for tree-crop systems, including leguminous trees (wattle, black locust, tree lucerne) in
any orchard, nut-crop or timber-crop situation. Any smallholder can, without tractor or
machinery, produce a heavy crop of grains and legumes if “simultaneous rotation” is practised.
The method is very well suited to sewage or sullage disposal from holding lagoons, where no
poultry manure would be needed.
In this treatment I have combined data from three books (Refs. 3, 12, 13) using Fukuoka’s
methodology, and data from the latter two references (12, 13) to evolve a no-dig and permanent
grain-crop system that fits into the permaculture system. Grain crops are an important food
source, and are available within a season. Most areas suit grains, and legumes are the essential
plants to fix nitrogen for the grain crop. A grain/legume diet gives a complete protein supplement
(seeDiet f’or a Sma!/ Planet, Frances Moore LappC, FOE/Ballantyne).
The principles of continuous mulch (with clover) plus double-cropping using winter and spring
sown grains is what makes it possible to use small areas (400 mz or less) to support a family of five
on grain. If paddy rice is to be grown, the area must first be graded or levelled, and a low bund
(water-wall) built around the plot, so that 50 mm or so of water can lie on the ground in
December (see Ref. 12 for technique of sealing bund walls with plastic).
After levelling or preparation in summer, the area has lime or dolomite spread over it, watered
in, and made ready for autumn planting. To start the continuous crop system off, a complete
(seed-free) mulch cover of straw, seagrass, shredded paper or sawdust etc. is applied at about 900
kg/l000 rn: (8000 lb/acre). If no mulch is available, seed can be covered as usual, by raking in. I
will deal with more than one plot here, to show how different plants can be treated. In April, seed
is broadcast below the mulch as follows:
Plot No.
White clover
White clover
White clover
White clovt~
Winter wheat
White clover
Rice lies until spring, and other crops germinate soon after sowing. Assuming that the rotation
has been proceeding for one year, and that crop straw is now available for mulch on site, the year
then proceeds as follows:
April: A thin layer of chicken manure is broadcast over the area. Use clover at 1 kg per ha. (1
lb/acre), rye and other grains at 7-16 kg per ha, and rice at 6-l 1 kg per ha (5-10 lbs/acre). (Use inoculated clover if this is the first crop.) Seed can be scattered first, then straw-covered, thus protecting it from birds. In the second year, rye and clover are sown into the ripe rice crop at this
time. The rye and other grains are sown mid-nionth.
May: First week-last year’s rice is reaped, the crop dried on racks for 2-3 weeks, and threshed.
All rice straw and husks are returned to the field. Unhusked rice is now resown within a month of
harvesting, just before the straw is returned.
June-September: Migrate to a sunny climate, or admire the winter crop. Light grazing of the
winter crops by sheep or geese assist the stooling of plants and will add manure. Check and sow
any ‘thin’ areas as soon as possible. When the crop has reached 150 mm or thereabouts, about
100 ducks per ha (40/acre) will reduce pests and add manure. Fields (or paddies) are kept welldrained,
Ocrober: Check that rice is growing, and re-sow thin patches if necessary.
Novetuber: Rye, barley etc. is harvested in the middle of this month, and stacked to dry for 7-10
days. The rice is trodden, but recovers. When other grains are threshed, all straw and husks are
returned to the fields, moving each straw type on to a different plot thus:
Plot No.
December: only rice remains. Summer weeds may sprout; these are weakened by flooding for
7-10 days, until the clover is yellow but not dead. Rice grows on until May harvest.
January-March: the field is kept at 50-809’0 saturation under rice, while seeds of other grains are
prepared for sowing in April. The cycle then continues as before, but now using the crop straw
for mulch. Each person must evolve their own techniques and species mixtures, but once a Tycle is
perfected there is no further cultivation, and straw mulch is the only weed control: it helps if the
area of bunds around the crop is planted to Coprosma, comfrey, citrus, mulberry, lemon-grass,
tree lucerne, pampas, or other weed-controlling shelter plant. Mulch with sawdust under these
borders to prevent weed re-invasion from the bunds or surrounding land.
Where a paddy is not possible, dry-land rice or other grain species can be used, and spray irrigation replaces summer flooding. In monsoon areas, summer rain should suffice. For amateurs,
seed should be sown at the higher rates until skill in even broadcasting is achieved. Mechanical
spinners can be used for larger areas. Where rice cannot be grown (e.g. very cool areas) other
grains may be substituted and short-term cycles may be invented. (Spring wheat or corn sown in
Sept-November, for example, with oats, barley or wheat as winter crop.) Other legumes can also
be tried.
Logsdon12 gives sources for seed and small machinery and data on home processing for
threshing, husking and grinding. (The CSIRO “Ripple-Flo”
machine, now made in Australia,
carries out all these processes plus the chaffing of grain stalks.) In humid climates, grain should
be dried to 14% moisture before storage in pest-proof barrels or drums. In clean-tilled ground the
amount of seed needed is 4-5 times as much as in this straw-mulch method. Fukuoka’s book gives
much more data on no-tillage gardening for vegetables and fruit, and for the tree crops he used 12
wattle trees (silver wattle for example) to the hectare (5/acre) instead of clover. Fukuoka3 has
maintained this no-dig c:lcle for 25 years, and his soil is improving, with no fertilizer other than
chicken 2nd duck manure, no sprays, and no herbicides.
W’here sparrows are a problem, the grains are mixed with mud, pressed through wire-mesh and
rolled into small balls, or dampened and shaken in a tray of clay dust to form mud-coated pellets.
Pellets can also be formed by extruding mud and grain through a domestic mincer, on to a
vibrating table of dust or floltr.
Rice (Ot:v,-asafiva), although a short-day cereal suited to latitudes to 40” N. and S., would be
possible or even a probable success in cool climates. It is self-pollinating. The U.N. notes that rice
responds to nitrogen (Fukuoka’s chicken manure). The Japanese control disease in seeds by soaking in 40% formalin diluted 50 times with water. The margins around the paddy-fields should be
mown or planted with shrubs or tall perennials to reduce weed invasion. Wild grasses act as reservoirs for disease. Again, Fukuoka scythes wild grasses and ignores sprays and insecticides.
Seed at about 13% moisture is stored in a cool place. “Good yields may reach 3,000-4,000
kg/ha., or about 3,500 Ibs/acre”.l’ 88 bushels = 5,200 Ibs (sometimes 116 bushels) plus !%JOO
of straw per hectare (8000 Ibs/acr:j3. (These differences in yield illustrate how much more efficient is the straw-mulch system.)
Rye (Sec& I-erealej: a long-day plant suited to cool areas; usually winter-grown but some spring types are available. Ripens in about 37-71 days. Pollination is by wind: autumn-planted
(April-June) at 55-60 kg in irrigated ground. Some nitrogen is needed on poor soils. Requires
good moisture (one irrigation) at flowering. Ergot is removed in a 20% solution of common salt,
seed is then rinsed and drained leaving germination unaffected. Crop must be threshed within a
few days of ripening, and plants cut at the “wax-ripe” stage, otherwise spikes dry out and seed
starts to shatter when husked. Store below 14070moisture. Good yields reach 2,800 kg/ha., about
2,400 Ibs/acre13, 5700 kg/ha (5200 lb/acre or 88 bushells).
U’hear (Triticutn aesfivutn): a long-day plant for cool areas. Some varieties are grown in
Alaska. There are both winter and spring wheats. Needs a sunny period of 6-8 weeks for ripening.
Well-drained and heavy soils are best. Self-pollinating. Species will not cross-pollinate over hedge
barriers. Sown at 40-80 kg/ha (36-72 lb/acre). Responds to nitrogen. In dry areas, flood irrigation is useful, but this should cease when grain is filled. Cut when seed is doughy and fingernail
will still dent seed. Dry in field, thresh, and store below 21 Vo-14% moisture. Good yield is 1100
kg/ha (1000 Ibs/acre)13.
Barley (Hordeurn vulgare): a long-day plant for cool areas; sub-tropical to arctic. Spring types
mature in 60-70 days, winter types in 160 days. Self-pollinated. Sown at 70-120 kg/ha. (64-108
Ibs/acre) under irrigation in Autumn, or at 13 kg/ha (12 Ibs/acre) in mulch3. Control ergot as for
rye. Has less pests than wheat. Grain must be hard before threshing, straw dry. Store at 14%
moisture in cool dry conditions. Good yield is 3000-3500 kg/ha (3300-3850 Ibs/acre)13; 4700
kg/ha (5200 lbs/acre), or 22 bushels’.
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum Sp.) F. esculentium, F. tartaricutn, F. etnarginatutn: suits a wide range
of climates. F. esculentiutn is best for cool moist climate. Wide range of soils, even infertile and
poorly-tilled or acid soil. Pollinated by insects, needs (and is liked by) bees, at 2 hives per ha.
Frost tender. Sow only after all frost danger is past at 25-40 kg/ha (22-36 lb/acre); not more, or
less seed is produced. Lime may help, Few diseases. Normally harvested at 10 weeks, when seed at
base is fully ripe. Threshes easily. Seed may be dried on floor. Good yields 42004400 kg/ha,
(3800-4000 lb/acre)“.. An excellent green manure for poor soils.
Oats (Avena sativa, A. byzantina): long-day crop of winter and spring varieties, best in cool
climate. A.sativa best winter crop in cool areas. Neutral soils of many types (dry loam best).
Self-pollinated. Lodges (falls) with high nitrogen, so needs less of this than other grains. Sow at
50-200 kg/ha (45-180 lb/acre) in Sept.-Oct. for Feb.-March harvest, or in autumn for winter
vatieties. Water needed at flowering. Harvest when straw still a little green, grain at hard dough
stage. Store below 14% moisture. Good yields at 3000 kg/ha (2700 lb/acre)“.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa or Canihua, C. pallidicauda): Grown in S. America ar high
altitudes (Peru, Argentina), C.quinoa ripens in 135-145 days, Canihua in 165-172 days. Tolerant
of soils and salts. Spring-sown at lo-15 kg/ha (9-13% lb/acre). Birds a problem. Plants are pulled
when seed resists finger pressure. Pile in stacks to dry. Good varieties (1000 varieties available),
yield 2000-3000 kg/ha ( 1800-2700 lb/acre)’ I.
Teff (Eragrostis reff): neutral daylength. White-seeded types suited to summer-dry season,
brown-seeded to summer-wet seasons. Drought-resistant, but needs shelter when flowering; suits
a wide range of well-drained soils; grows well on sandy soils. Self-pollinating. Sow in spring for
Autumn harvest at IO-12 kg/ha (9-11 lb/acre). Thin if necessary. Harvest when green panicles
turn grey. Yields 2000 kg/ha (1800 lb/acre)“.
Millef (red millet, white millet, broom corn): treat as for maize (below), planting soaked seed
10 days later than maize at 9 kg/ha (8 Ibiscre)“.. All varieties grow quickly and need little water.
A good crop to use where other grains have missed in earlier plantings. Cross-or self-pollinating.
Harvest when seeds are ripe: hang heads in barn, these can be fed directly to poultry, like
sunflower heads. Seed stores well. Birds are a prc\blem with miller crops; poultry appreciate seeds.
Maize or sweet corn, popcorn (Zea ways): a short-cay plant, yet suited to 40% or N. and subtropics. Stands slight frost only. Varieties seed from 50-130 days. Prefers well-drained, neutral
soils. Cross-pollinated by wind, so needs tall windbreaks to keep varieties pure. Often followed
by wheat or barley, rotated with peas, peanuts, soya beans. Sow Nov.-Jan. “When oak leaves are
at 15-30 kg/ha (13%/27 lb/acre). Thin if
as big as squirrel’ ears, or soil temp. is 60”“‘,
necessary, to 1200-1400 plants/ha (490-560 plants/acre). Needs less nitrogen, more phosphate
and potash than other grains. Irrigation at dry periods increases seed yield. Sweet corn harvested
at ‘milky’ stage and frozen, or seed cobs allowed to dry on plant. Can be stooked in fields, husked
and fed on cob to poultry, pigs, or the seed may be stripped off and stored. Yields 1200-1500
kg/ha (1100-1350 lb/acre). It is also possible to graze off the lower leaves with lambs, and then
turn pigs into the field to harvest cobs. Cattle and poultry will scavenge remains, if any, but then
few stalks are left to mulch, and straw must be ‘borrowed’ from elsewhere. A good interplant for
this grain is climbing beans (twine on corn stalks), or broad beans. Melons or pumpkins can be
produced at ground level in sunny areas,
Pulsesand Legumes,Hedgerowand Oil Plants 2
Broad beans (Vicia fabia): long-day, cool climate plant. Frost hard. Lime heavy loams, drain
well. Bees help seed set, but self-pollinated. Sow Apr.-Jun. at 200 kg/ha (180 lb/acre) (35-40
plants/m*). Some manure important for phosphorous, or rock phosphate. Cut before top pods
ripen, stack to dry. Yields 1500 kg/ha (1350 lb/acre). As well as seed, tops can be used as a green
vegetable,” and young top pods eaten green as they form. If stems are hard-cut after harvest,
they resprout the following autumn.
Vetch (Vicia spp., especially V. ervilia): long-day cool climate pulse, grows on dunes, wet soils.
V. pannonica best for heavy soils, V. ervilia for cold resistance. Produce more seed on less fertile
soils. Self-pollinating, but helped by bees. Often followed by maize, wheat, or can be mixed with
barley, oats, rye, or wheat. Sow Feb.-Apr. or as a winter crop at 40-50 kg/ha (36-45 lb/acre), or
20 kg/ha (18 lb/acre) with 40 kg (36 lb) of grain oats, 80 kg (72 lb) of rye. Best sown with oats, as
seeds mature together. Not usually irrigated. Cut when lower pods ripe. Ervilia is the later ripening variety. Oat and barley seeds readily separate from vetch. Store dry. Yield to 1000 kg/ha (900
lb/acre) on heavy land (I/. ervilia)13.
Lentils (Lens culinaris): a long-day plant for mediterannean climates, or as a winter crop in
tropics, Very hardy to frost. Self-pollinating. Often sown with barley, in rows 2 m wide, alternating. Does not need much nitrogen; has few pests. Sow at 30-80 kg/ha (27-72 lb/acre)“, ripens
i!l 90-150 days. Harvest when lower pods brown; bundles pulled and dried over several days.
Flailed or threshed if with grains. Av. yield 600-1300 kg/ha (540-900 Ib/‘acre)“. Sow in June-Aug.
or Nov.-Aug. in med. ciimate.
Chick-pea (C’iver arierinutu): a day-neutral plant requiring cool weather for best growth. Can
stand low temperatures. Matures 90-100 days. Needs well-drained soils. Self-pollinating, Usually
follows wheat, rice, oats. Sow in Sept.-Nov. as a spring crop at about 40-60 kg/ha (36-54
lb/acre). Often irrigated in dry periods. Harvest when seed well-developed but green, leaves
reddish-brown. Pull or GUI, stack I-2 weeks in field. Flail; yields 900 kg/ha (810 lb/acre) under irrigsr ion ’ ‘.
F;cJ/c//zcu (Pi.wtt7 sarivu177):
long-day plant of cool moist climates. More damaged by high
Icmpcratures than by i’rost. Self-pollinating. Often precedes wheat. Sown Aug.-Nov. at IOO-159
kg/ha (90-135 lb/acre). F\ltash useful in wet climates. Water at blossoming, and again just before
pods form, or at half-full if no rain. Harvest by pulling or cutting when peas split without
mnisturc released. Stnck lo-15 days, dry to 15070 moisture. Yield about 1000 kg/ha (900
Llcpim (Lupirlis sp,!~.): long-day or green crop preferring cool climates, grown as summer or
winter annuals, maturing seed (if needed) in 100-150 days. Prefer neutral light soils. Bees are main
pollinators. Often grown after peanuts, before grains, or even useful to pior.eer land (if inoculated). Sow Sept.-Nov. or Mar.-May at 40-80 kg/ha (36-72 lb/acre). If used as a pioneer, add
phosphates. Rabbits a nuisance. Plants cut (if for seed) when pods % brown, bunched and
rhreshed over wire frame. Average seed yield 800-1000 kg/ha (720-900 lb/acre)“. A new lupinisfree variety of the perennial Russel Lupin is being developed in the U.K. as a human and stock
food-a sort of perennial pea.
Tree Lucerne (Chaett7oclvtislrspr’oliferrcs):a small tree IO 4 m. Hardy, perennial legume. Earlyflowering, June-Jan. at Lat. 40”s. Seeds Jan-Mar. Abundant seed for poultry forage, foliage as
cattle or sheep forage crop. Wide range of soils, clay, clay-loam. Pollinated by insects, mainly
bees. Sown early summer, pods f&Jr seed as for lupins (above). Stands pruning for bundles of
seed-pods. Useful hedge plant for H ind protection or with Coprostna seed as poultry fodder. Used also in double-fenced strips as summer cattle and sheep fodder. Prunings used for mulch.
Several other hedgerow plants are mentioned elsewhere in this book. (See section 4.4.)
A !*ycle that could be tried on sandy soils is peanut/potato, intercropped with lupins as green
manure. Mulch the area with straw or seaweed over hills and shelter by using Russell lupin
(perennial) as a windbreak.
Peamts: hand-shelled from raw seed, are planted and can be inoculated if no clover present.
Plant after last killing frost Oct.-Dec. at 33 kg/ha (30 lb/acre), rows 90 cm, seed spaced at 39 cm
on ridges (24,600 plants per hectare or lO,OOO/acre give max. yield). Weeds must be controlled by
mulch, or peanuts are difficult to harvest. Chicken manure as rhitl scatter helps crop. If rain
poor, irrigate every 10 days after flowering. Plants are lifted when leaves yellow and some pods
are brown on inside surface (about 120, i40 days). Need ploughing on heavier soils, can be pulled
in sandy soils, dried and stripped (oil and seed crop).
Modifications to the above systems must be worked out locally, preferably on a small scale
(mowing weeds instead of flooding paddies, for example).
Further helpful data is given in Phillips, S. H. and Young, H. M.“. This book, although
oriented to heavy machinery and sprays, gives some useful hints for no-tillage farmers. For exam38
pie, rye and wheat are broadcast into soybean crops when the leaves on the latter begin to
fall-the falling leaves hide the seed from birds. Soybeans (or other legumes) are broadcast into
the stubble of oats, barley, wheat, or rye, as is lespedeza, which is autumn-harvested. Peas are
planted after corn, and green peas are followed by corn. Other crops suited IO no-tillage are
cucumber, watermelon, tomato, cotton, tobacco, sugar beet, pepper, vetch, sunflower.
Soybeans following grain are planted the last week of May or up to 3 weeks later in straw
The rather mind-boggling problem is to work out useful permutations on the method. If we
have, say, 8 grains, 3 of which are winter/spring forms, 6 legumes (all with different bearing) and
seasons of either winter or summer rain, then the possibilities are intricate. Other complications
are dryland, spray-irrigated and paddy-field systems. And, in the case of any but paddy crops, the
potential for integration with perennial or tree crop systems. It remains to run trials. One limitation is that “spring” straw cannot be strewn over the seed of the same crop (and so transmit
disease), whereas straw put on in autumn or mid-summer rots before the spring crop shoots.
There are, then, a confusing number of possibilities to try, and the best way :o proceed is to
map the sequences on paper for a number of small garden plots, try these for your area, and only
proceed to broadscale trials when the trial sequences have proved successful. There is, however,
no doubt in my mind that we can evolve several permanent no-tillage rotations with modest trials.
What we omit here is the 2-4D or paraquat sprays which are the basis for no-tillage where the
high-energy, low know-how and agribusiness operators use it. Fukuoka-’ controls weeds and pests
by natural means (frogs, spiders, straw, flooding or cutting).
Labour in the system is minimal, and we hope that many people will run trials on a backyard
basis, with chick peas, lentils, beans or lupins as alternative legumes. Feedback on results would
be much appreciated, and successful trials will be published in the Permaculture Quarterly.
Why reference three books on grain crops? The comparisons alone are interesting. The FAO
bulletin and Fhillips and Young’ could be characterised as “consciously inorganic”, Logsden as
“consciously organic” and Fukuoka as “non-consciously organic”. I think that the sequence is
one of evolution in approach and process: the yields increase as the understanding increases, and
that about sums it up. Fukuoka has “stacked” crop rotation by sowing into the preceding crop,
and using white clover as a permanent base. Logsden has rotation well worked out, but separated
in time. The FAO has some ideas of rotation, but no system is offered. Just as Fukuoka stacks his
grain/legume system, so he stacks his citrus/wattle system. It is in this collapsing of the time for
successions that he shows sophistication -order in time by apparent disorder in space. So it is
with all truly creative syntheses.
Distribution of
Yield 3
The concentration of yields into one short period is a-fiscal, not an environmental strategy, and
has resulted in a “feast and famine” regime in market and fields, with consequent high storage
costs. Our aim should be to disperse yield over time, so that many products are available at any
season. This aim is achieved, in permaculture, in a variety of ways:
by selection of early, mid and late season varieties;
by planting the same variety in early or late-ripening situations;
by selection of long-yielding species;
by a general increase in diversity in the system, so that leaf, fruit, seed and root are all product
by using self-storing species such as tubers, hard seeds, nuts or rhizomes which can be dug on
by techniques such as preserving, drying, pitting, and cool storage; and
* by regional trade between communities, or by purchasing land at different altitudes or
Although there was a description of sheet mulch for gardens in Permaculture One (p. 93’), this
technique has brought up many questions which I hope this account will answer. The technique is
figured in Fig. 3.3, and similar methods are described by Ruth Stoutn together with others,
published and unpublished, all of whom have their variations. Video film of the author
demonstrating the process is available from WAIT (West Australia Inst. of Tech., Perth): contact
Barry Oldfield, or via Smith’s Bookstore, Canberra, contact Harry Smith.
Now, the first thing to say about sheet mulching is that it saves a great deal of labour, and a
great deal of water, while dispensing with material that normally goes into landfill. Thus
mulching also saves money for public authorities, and produces an excellent soil. Another appeal
is that the system is tool-free and suppresses all weeds: ivy, onion and spear twitch, kikuyu and
buffalo grass, docks, dandelions, oxalis, onion-weed and even blackberries. Before starting,
plant any large trees or shrubs from the nursery as usual.
The first step (Fig. 3.3) is to sprinkle the area with a handful of dolomite and a handful of
chicken manure or blood and bone; the latter two add nitrogen to start the process of reducing
the carbon in the following layers. Don’t bother to dig, level, or weed the area. Your first attempt
should be very close to the house, preferably starting from a foundation or path which is itself
weed-free. Thus, you are protected from invasion of weeds from the rear, so to speak.
Now, proceed to tile and overlap the area with sheet mulch material. This can be cardboard,
wallboard, newspaper, old carpet, underfelt, old matresses or clothing, rotted palings or thin
wood. If you have a garbage pail of non-noxious wastes like tea-leaves, peelings, leaves and small
food scraps, scatter these first, for the worms. If you have a source of weed-seedy hay or like
material, bury this also below the overlapped material, so that no weeds follow on. Cover the area
to be mulched cotnpletely leaving no holes for weeds to poke through. If you have a valuable tree
or shrub in the way, tear paper half across and pull it around the stem. Serve another, at rightangles to the first. Go on, leaving only.valuable plants (some dandelions, clover, useful small
plants) with their leaves poking out. Water this first layer well, and then apply, in sequence:
75 mm of either
horse-stable straw
poultry manure in sawdust
seagrass or seaweed
0 leaf mould or raked leaves
or any of these mixed.
All of these are manurial, or contain essential elements. All hold water well. Follow these with
dry, weed-seed-free material on top:
150 mm of either
pine needles
0 casuarina needles
0 rice husks
nut shells
seagrass (Zosrera)
leaf mould or raked leaves
0 cocoa beans
dry straw (not hay)
bark, chips, or sawdust
or any of these mixed.
FINISH. Water until fairly well soaked. Always put at least 225 mm of cover over the paper,
cardboard etc. 300 mm is better, 375 mm too much, less is of no use, so do a small area very well,
not a large area thinly or sloppily. It takes about 20 minutes to cover an area some 10m2, and if
you have all the materials at hand it is no trouble at all, and looks very well.
Now, take Iurge seeds (beans, peas), tubers (oca, potato, jerusalem artichoke), small plants
(herbs, tomato, celery, lettuce, cabbage) and small potted plants. Set them out as follows:
With your hand, burrow down a small hole to the base of the loose top mulch. Punch or slit a
hole in the paper, carpet, etc. with an old axe or knife. Place a double handful of earth in this
hole, and push in the seed or tuber, or plant the small seedling in it. For seeds and tubers, pull the
mulch back over. For seedlings, hold the leaves softly in one hand, and bring the mulch up to ;he
base of the plant.
O.K. instant garden. Time to retire. An important thing to do is to quite fill up the area with
plants, according to the prior planting plan you had worked out on paper. For instance:
chamomile and thyme near the path;
larger herbs behind them (marjoram, sage, comfrey);
potatoes and tubers behind this;
small fruits and fruit trees at the outer border.
Any ‘holes’ can be filled with strawberries, cloves of garlic, onion plants, potatoes, or some such
useful plant, at random.
If you must use small seed, do it this way:
Pull back the mulch in a row; lay down a line of sand, and sow small seeds of radish, carrot, etc.
Cover with a narrow board for a few days, until. seeds have sprouted (or sprout them first on
damp paper). Then remove the board and draw mulch up as the tops grow.
Root crops don’t do well in the first year, as the soil below is still compacted and there is too
much manure, so they tend to fork out. Plant most root crops in the second year, when it is only
necessary to pull back the loose top mulch to reveal a layer of fine dark soil.
By the end of the first summer, the soil is revolutionized, and will contain hundreds of worms
and soil bacteria. Just add a little top mulch to keep levels up, usually a mix of chips, bark, pine
needles, and hay. Scatter a little lime or blood and bone. For permanent beds, do no more, but
annuals need occasional fresh mulch after harvest: their wastes are “tucked under” as are all your
food wastes from the kitchen. Worms are so active that the leaves and peelings disappear overnight. Leather boots take a little longer, oid jeans a week or so, and dead ducks a few days.
Whether from neighbours untended fences, or from the uncontrolled edge of your own cultivation, the mulched area of Zone I is under constant attack from ground invaders. In sub-tropical
areas, kikuyu, couch or buI‘falo grasses reach out to smother the pampered annuals. Unless you
can afford deep concrete sills under the fence, you must look to nature for the solutions.
Lemon-grass, pampas, comfrey, bamboo, coprosma and like vigorous, shady or mat-rooted
useful plants are immune to the re-invading kikuyu, and a short inspection of your area will
reveal more species that do not permit the invaders’ approach. So plant a living barrier around
your protected a,rea, mulch it well with cardboard, sawdust or straw, and rest easy from the
labour of keeping your bordeis safe.
The same approach can be used to contain useful rampant species, so that blackberries can be
confined to openings in forest, cumbungi (reedmace) to pond edges surrounded by ti-tree, and
mint confined by shady dense bushes, rat’ler than in tubs. Hens make a mess of mulch, but ducks
can be released in mid-winter to clean up slugs and snails. Sawdust protects from slugs, lizards
and frogs from woodlice and earwigs.
There is no need to rotate plants in this system, or to ‘rest the ground’. Potatoes are simply placed
on top of the old mulch, and re-mulched. But then, there is no need to leave room to hoe or dig
either, so plants may be stacked much more closely, but preferably in mixed beds rather than in
strict rows. By frequent and random replanting, the garden will start to assume the healthy appearance of a mixed herbal pasture. The reasons for this “untidy” approach are clearly set out in
this book, and are relevant to pest control.
Some strong weeds may force through. Carry some damp newspaper and a bucket of sawdust.
Push the weed down in the mulch, put damp paper on its head, cover with sawdust. If (perhaps)
10% of the kikuyu or twitch comes up, sheet with paper and again, cover with sawdust. All eventually die out under this treatment, leaving the area clear of all weeds: only your plants have their
heads in the air. Another ploy is to dig up dock roots, bury kitchen scraps there, and re-mulch.
Water only when needed; that is, if plants wilt. One drought summer in Canberra (‘77/‘78) the
Anderson family garden survived all summer with one watering about Christmas time. Feel down
in the mulch, and if it is damp at base it doesn’t need water. Most of your work is in extending the
system, filling in spaces with useful plants, and designing the plantings or harvesting. Keep the
garden full at all times. In the first year, however, you need to water more frequently, as the rotted and hygroscopic layer of fungal hyphae and plants at the base of the mulch are slow to
develop. Newly planted seedlings need water initially, as in normal gardening.
Trees make quite phenomenal growth in this system, and bear several years earlier than in
clean-tilled ground. The soil improves permanently. Trees may never need fresh mulch, as in a
few years the larger trees and shrubs become self-mulching, the herbs hold their own, and only
the annuals need annual attention. Potatoes are picked, not dug, and the mulch kept up close to
them to prevent greening-off. They also do better in the second and subsequent years.
Never bury sawdust or chips; just put them on top where atmospheric nitrogen breaks down
the wood. Worms add sufficient manure to supply the base manure. Keep the mulch loose, don’t
let it mat, and thus mix lawn clippings or sawdust with stiff dry material like chips or pine needles,
bark, etc.
This system works. Observation and trial are the rules. Try a small area first, extend later.
Now, a little reflection will reveal the social benefits of a domestic sheet mulch. By using all
organic wastes productively, you make the grade from consumer to producer, and the very nature
of your garbage pail alters to harmless materials. If you extend the mulch out the front gate onto
the nature strip, so much the better. Chris Stoltz, of Ballarat, did this and soon became a lesson in
productivity and an inspiration to his neighbours. The mind boggles at the end result of mass urban mulching.
In a few months you will note many free tomatoes, cucurbits, tree seedlings and the like spring up
from your mulch. These arise from your garbage pail, or can be deliberately broadcast-sown, as
sheet mulch is the best way to propagate healthy plants. Judicious thinning, replanting, gifts, and
sales dispose of the surplus seedlings.
Yet another effect of litter and mulch is outlined in Habitat (V.4 of May, 1977, pp. 16-17),
where the problem of Phyropfhora (otherwise known as dieback, fire-blight or cinnamon fungus)
is discussed. Litter and mulch preserve soil organisms, and the steady temperature and moisture
conditions which encourage other organisms hostile to the Phyfopthora fungi. Burning opposes
this effect, which explains why well-mulched gardens are less likely to be affected by disease than
logged, roaded and burnt forests, and why potatoes grown in mulch are often disease-free and
Somewhere (never in peasant lands) people started to separate medical, food, honeyproducing, aromatic, and annual vegetables into distinct areas. Modern gardening books seem to
encourage this, showing neat plans of categorized layout-kitchen
garden separated from orchard, orchard from herb garden, herb garden from annual border, border from pond, pond
from cacti, and so on. We recommend a total re-integration as the best method of pest control,
stability in system, and beauty in landscape, with rare massed planting for special and pest-free
species (bamboo, marigold, gooseberry},
Another way to protect desert and tropic soils is to develop a living mulch. Charlie Sncll, at
Whims Creek {W.A.) writes that he has large orders for Sturts Desert Pea, for just $uch usage.
Ruth Geneff of Perth (W.A.) is using Kerlnediu pr-rstrato, again for m.~lch in which (or through
which) she plants a garden. Dolichos species serve the same purpose in higher rainfall areas.
If we can develop such nitrogenous shady matting or carpel ;ng of ear:h. fertility \vill build, and
we can follow with other species. The leaves and stems of droughted ground cover build to humus
in time, and pioneer species can take hold. Fukuoka’ well describes how he converted hard red
clay back to orchard using lucerne as his pioneer species.
In stony deserts or dry slope areas, where surface stone is readily a\,ailable, stones alone make a
permanent mulch around trees. Richaid St. Barbe-Baker (ScierweShow, A.B.C., May 261h, 79)
instances this technique as particularly beneficiai 10 saplings in desert areas. Stones are of benefit
to plants in the following ways:@ by providing shade from intense day heat;
0 by releasing stored heat to the soil at night;
0 by preventing poultry or small animal damage to roots;
0 b;/ preventing wind lifting of roots;
0 by providing shelter for worms and small soil organisms;
0 and on very cool nights, by causing water to condense on their surfaces.
A variation on this is the “black mulch” of oil-bitumen wastes used in broadscale desert plantings.
3 KeepingYour AnnualsPerennial
There are several techniques developed by gardeners throughout the world to keep annuals in
the garden ‘turning over’. Leeks are a good example, for if a few are left to run to seed, then
lifted, many small bulb& can be found around the base of the stems. These can be planted out in
the same way as onion sets, and as Fukuoka3 points out, leeks should never be absent from a weilmanaged system.
In the onion/leek group of plants, many are in any case perennial. Near the door we can plant
two varieties of European chives (coarse-fine leaves), asiatic garlic chives, and shallots of various
types. Further away, as a border, set out potato onions (which give about 25 for every one
planted), Welsh onions, evergreen bunching onions, the top bulbils of tree onions, and plan: the
cloves of garlic in the strawberry patch in autumn, or any space left in raised beds. Garlic bulbs, if
allowed to multiply for two years give a constant crop.
If the large pods at the base of broad beans are left to dry and hay-mulched in late summer they
will rcsprout in autumn; ‘or the crop may be pruned back hard after harvest and will sprout again.
Corn is a good interplant for summer. Seed potatoes can be left under mulch to sprout in spring,
and lettuces let go to seed will scatter seedlings around their base for replanting. Parsley and
many flat-seeded species reseed freely in mulch, and their seedlings can be set out to grow.
Fruit and vegetables (tomatoes, pumpkin, melon) placed whole under mulch at harvest ferment
and rot, throwing up seedlings for new plantings. Some people keep carrot tops in a dark or cool
place, let them sprout again, and set them out to grow in soft soil. Others cut their cabbages low,
split the stalk crosswise with a knife, let small sprouts start, then divide up the stalk and root mass
and replant. All these methods eliminate resowing or making seed beds, and keep the garden turning over crop.
In temperate climates the axil shoots of tomatoes and related species can be pinched out and
reset as small plants all summer, the last lot potted and brought in to fruit over winter. Peppers
treated in this way may be winter pruned and then set outside in spring, and sweet capsicum served the same.
Some useful species of annuals (chickweed, amay-anthus) need to be encouraged to persist,
perhaps by a little soil disturbance or mulch under the seedling plant. Anderson’ notes how
amaranthus is thus grown as an ‘encouraged’ rather than a cu;ltivated vegetable grain in Central
A small proportion (about 4-69’0) of all crops sown can be let run to seed or ripen for scattering
under mulch, rather than buying annua! seed crop. The key is to mulch with soft weeds, hay, and
like plant material rather than to turn the soil and clean-cultivate.
The age-old problem of a seasonal fodder or forage shortage is illustrated in Fig. 4.2. Both annuals and perennials in pasture reach peak productivity in spring, with a lesser autumn flush of
growth if there are early rains. This at least is the regime of the temperate lands, where winter
rainfall dominates. The data presented here is for south-eastern Australia, and appears in fusr~rr-cl
Branch Bulletin No. 3 of the Victorian Dept. of Agriculture.
Flock management, as the sale of young stock or the culling of herds after breeding, reduces
the summer feed requirements. But it is obvious that there is a shortfall in hidsummer and midwinier feed, the former because of summer drought and the latter due to rhc cold and slog
growth of plants.
It is from data like this that the intelligent agriculturalivt can plan tree-crop infills 10 lake up rhc
gaps that pasture alone IeavGs. For example, midsummer feed is provided by carob and honey
locust pods, the foliage of Coprowm, pampas and Chaetnocyrims, and autumn/wint(‘r feed by
the same foliage plants plus the great variety of oaks, chestnut, and black walnut. Both these
types of feed are basically concentrated and high-energy foods, enabling the more efficient use of
dry pasture or rank grasses.
Traditionally, and in areas subject to drought, the foliage of kurrajong, willow and poplar has
been slash-felled to tide herds over drought. It is far more sensible to use self-feeding systems
under forage forest, and to pIalit strips of low forage foliage where herds can be turned in for
short periods.
Schematically we can “level out” forage production to approximate stock needs, as per Fig.
4.1. A gradual (4-10 year) changeover to the correct balance of tree crop species would obviate the
need for expensive forest harvesters, feed-grain storage and processing, and hay-making that is an
essential part of “pasture only” farming we see today. It also suits the comfort and well-being of
animals, who can range into forest when extremes of heat and cold affect them, and occupy
pastures in the tolerable periods of spring and autumn. One imagines that this was, in fact, the
normal habit of catile and other large herbivores before we clear-felled farms for pasture, and
that the non-functional hedgerows of today are the remains of the older forests.
As a secondary effect then, less stress is placed on the herds from heat and cold shock, and far
less energy is needed by the farmer and the flock over the whole year. An estimated IS% of beef
yield is lost due to lack of shelter alone. St. Barbe-Baker asserts that where 22% of the land is
planted to productive trees, yields double on the remaining 78% of the land surface, so that no
yields are lost by farm forestry, and the gains depend on design planning. If such systems were
evolved on a broad scale it is probable that the extremes of drought and flood would also be
modified by the forests, and the whole region would benefit from the pasture/forest polyculture.
What few farmers plan is a long-range policy of diversification, and this is just what is achieved
by forest-pasture planning, as the tree products such as carob and chestnut can also be more
directly l:onverted to sugars, fuels, glues, food additives, flours, and such products. This is of
great value when markets for wool, hides, and meat are in flux, and gives the forest farmer a very
great advantage over the “pasture only” addict, who is tied to a single market or product.
How the changeover might be made is suggested in the following section.
All large properties, of about 20 ha or more, have areas which can be fenced out with minimal
productivity loss. This is particularly true of steep, stony, eroded, or problem soils, awkward corners, and cold or windswept valleys and rises. Such areas permit the development crf a rolling permaculture which initialiy provides shelter as hedgerow, and later becomes a diverse forage and
tree crop resource.
The first narrow, or nuclear plantings should contain many species in almost random assembly,
fairly thickly planted so that thinnings are available for pole timbers. Processes are:
1. Reduce pests by broadscale control or netted fencing.
2. Prepare land by soil rehabilitation and liming.
3. Accumulate seed supplies, and plant many species for later assessment. (Select good seed
and give necessary pre-treatment (soaking, boiling etc.).
4. Mark selected strong seedlings with pegs for later mulching and experimental treatment with
fertilizers (seaweed solution, blood and bone, stable or poultry manure). An excellent ploy is
to m,ulch within empty tyres around trees. This protects from wind, rabbits, and drought.
Thorn or thistle mulch in tyres discourages small browsers.
5. Gradually introduce poultry or light livestock into the area, watching for damage.
6. Assess and shift or add fences as the system proves itself.
Cull poorer specimens for pole timber, leaving selected high-yielding or strong trees and
shrubs to continue growth.
A rolling permacutture has the following beneficial effects:
provides a sheltered nesting, lambing or calving place, and increases meat production;
enables early diversification into honey and pollen production;
QJ enables later diversification into a wide range of animal and plant products, nut crops, etc.;
Simple amylase columns (pipes filled with amylase culture on glass beads or quartzite pebbles)
convert cellulose wastes to glucose, hence alcohol, so that a grinder converts garbage and straw to
fuel with no great problem.
Housed in a greenhouse, the by-products are heat and CO?, mulch and food. No critical
materials are lost, but all products not directiy utilised can be recycled via animal feed (pig, worm,
fish) to plant food, thus closing a solar cycle that will fuel every tractor or motorbike needed for
essential use. The technology is simple, well-known and widespread.
Any details we have on this process are updated at intervals as a standard design (see Appendix
I). Only very simple tools are needed (mainly tanks). A simple flour and water dough may be used
to seal any vents in stills, and it is humbug to pretend that any community cannot easily produce a
liquid fuel, plus the basis for stock feeds, preservatives, cooking fuels, and so on. The delay is,
one must believe, due only to the unwillingness of public utilities to give up on centralized and
polluting power, and of government support for oil companies, not people or farmers.
Australia (ABC News, July, ‘79) will spend 2-3 million dollars on P.R. to save petrol, but the
same amount spent on the low-cost ($15,000) distillation plants that would make a community or
small town self-sufficient is “not available”. The intention is obvious: we are expected to stick
with petrol or gas products, lead and pollution, until the oil companies gain control of alcohol
Most high-performance cars now run on alcohol, as do 60% of Brazil’s vehicles. But the
pretence is that we need “research” to develop this in Australia. Hogwash! Again, the only possible response is to build our own local plants and to resist central control, as this would mean great
energy waste in the transporting of raw materials to process plant, and alcohol back to farm. Onfarm production and roadside sales are the real solution, and one which is now available.
Dr Dick McCann, from the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at Sydney University, speaking on
the ABC Country Hour, July 19th, 1979, reports on a simple still he has developed for on-farm
use, and gives some yield figures for fuels from crop. He estimates that 5000-8000 I/ha/annum
(458-720 gall/acre/annum)
from sugar beet, and a tenth of that for wheat (500 l/ha/a-45
gall/acre/arm). Thus wheat or grains give a lesser yield, but still give a more useful residue for
stock feed; any area where sugar cane or sugar beet can be grown has the advantage of a product
with a direct ferment to alcohol. Grains, wastes and cellulose must go through other preliminary
processes such as sprouting, boiling, grinding and enzyme activity to first produce glucose or
sucrose before fermenting to alcohol.
Any group of farmers could easily fund an on-site tank, as could any small town. About 5-10070
of farm land devoted to fuel production would provide fuel self-sufficiency, with some surplus.
Less area would be needed if we develop tree crops, and less again if that crop is carob or sugarproducing tree-crop. Farmers and city waste centres are the potential future energy base for essential fuels. For lubricants also, castor oil and jojoba products suffice. With bicycle “freeways” increased and more efficient rail, canal, and sea transport and solar power, any society would be
self-sufficient in the essential transport needs. Like small stills, small hydro-electric plants are
possible, though as yet these have not been mooted, although many farms and towns have nearby
falling water or swift-flowing streams. Again, the problem is the centralization of power in large
utilities. We may yet live to think of the “petrol crisis” as a blessing, if it leads to sane regional
self-sufficiency, or a curse if it leads to the use of atomic power and a desperate scramble for the
world’s remaining fossil fuel resources.
The fact that some 20,000 U.S. farmers now use on-farm stills should put an end to the excuse
of “further research” and any delay in implementation of this renewable resource. On vehicles,
Victor Papanek of Wisconsin, has developed a very light “fibre-grass” car, the body made from
local grasses and a modern glue. Fueled with alcohol, this vehicle would serve farm transport
needs in both the west and the third world. Like the old Baby Austins, such vehicles need only
small (5-7 h.p.) alcohol motors, but modern design gives them greater efficiency than the older
Perhaps the most cogent argument for alcohol fuel is that the insidious lead pollution from car
exhausts is eliminated, thus alleviating health hazards in cities. The long-term advantage is that
the heat budget of the planet is not adversely affected, hence the threat of climatic change due to
the burning of fossil fuels and the felling of forests is also avoided.
Looking at unemployment, there could also be positive spin-offs in this area. Every 6-10 ha
devoted to fuel production would support a family, and any farmer would find it worthwhile to
employ (or lease out land) for fuel production. The same employee or producer could plant longterm crop in the time available between annual beet or can crop: such species as carob would be
invaluable for fuel as the beans are 68% sugars. Thus fuel forests could be established on each
farm that needed collection rather than annual cultivation and manurial input. The by-products
of increased glasshouse production and high-protein animal or human food would pay production costs, so that such fuel is free to the producer. If the monies now devoted to the creation of
new (and unpopular) freeways were diverted to local alcohol-producing plants, the evils of
unemployment and the “energy crisis” with its accompanying expensive fuel, would disappear,
and we would have time to think again. In suburbs, all food and cellulose wastes couid be used to
generate fuel via amylase columns, and end the humbug of “waste disposal” costs.
Sometimes one can be pardoned for thinking that we are all crazy, or dumb, or that there is a
gigantic conspiracy to keep people down and out. I am inclined to think that both factors are
Except for the scale of the plants, orchards are little different from pastures, The legume/tree
mix parallels the legume/grass mix of permanent pastures, therefore we can best commence any
orchard by planting legumes-small species like white clover, lab-lab and lucerne, larger acacias,
albizias and locusts, and a scattering of leguminous shrubs.
The second element, after legumes, are scavenging poultry. There is no reason at all why the
legumes chosen to support the orchard should not also support poultry on range. Even cursory
observation will reveal to any interested person that fruit and nut species under which poultry or
small livestock (wallaby, sheep) are allowed to range are more vigorous, healthier trees, showing
less lichen, dead branches, and very little, if any, insect attack on fruits. Conversely, trees or orchards where cattle or horses are allowed to browse show severe damage and disease. In permaculture then, the orchard is planned as a poultry range, so that the larger perennial legumes
(locusts, tree lucerne, Podylaria) are interplanted not only for nitrogen fixation, and to break up
the monoculture, but to provide poultry fodder as seeds and berries. All fruits are useful fodder,
but elderberry, mulberry and Craetaegus species are of high value.
For some reason, litter under poultry-run trees is more plentiful; that is, natural mulches are
thicker: Leaf mould is constantly being turned over by hens, suckers from trees are less, and
water absorption of the soil better, while grass mats are rare and many persistent weeds are absent.
The process to follow is simple enough: prepare the whole site by soil conditioning, set out the
leguminous species, and interplant the selected orchard trees, allowing small animals to forage
below the system as pest control and manurial elements. Pigs (autumn), geese (winter) ducks and
poultry (all year) are suitable livestock. Tree lucerne (for bees) top-trimmed as goose forage in
winter, add nitrogen and provide bee fodder, and control ground pasture. Hazel as edge species,
small fruit understorey, and perennial flower or vegetable crop for “in-line” plantings are also
Trials of black, red and white currants, gooseberries, lucerne, tree lucerne, clover, narcissus,
perennial dahlia, jerusalem and globe artichoke, ugni, and the like will reveal successful species
for site. Any deciduous trees removed as diseased can be replace,? with evergreen (feijoa, citrus,
loquat, olive) and the situation varied by long-term interplant of chestnut, walnut, almond and
Should you be so unfortunate as to inherit a monocultural orchard, remedial measures follow
much the same plan: add 3-4 hens, a pig, and S-6 large wattles per 1000 m2 (VI acre), with many
smaller legumes. As decoration and variety, plant fuchsias, banksias and Knifophia for the insectivorous birds; borage and white clover for the bees, and keep a keen eye on developments, using
judicious mowing and adding more species as the system evolves.
Planned variety gives a good display at wayside stalls and enables direct marketing of varied.
products, from flowers to fruit and nuts. Precisely the same number of fruit trees can be grown
for commercial use, even though the acreage may need to be expanded to accommodate the inter-
plant species, but savings in pest-infestation and fertilizer use more than compensate for the need
to disperse the system, while secondary yields increase the total income, and free the producer
from the fluctuations of a commodity market or a rapacious processor.
Almost all fruit trees available from nurseries have been shaped in such a way that later pruning
is essential. Most books on tree culture give data on pruning. Few bother to question why a tree is
pruned, but some reasons are as follows:
* ease of spraying and harvesting;
0 maximum size of fruit;
0 reduction of leaf and increase of fruit spurs;
0. even ripening due to even light penetration;
0 removal of diseased parts; and
0 small tree size for small areas, greater density.
All of these are admirable ends, if the aim is a commercially produced and even product. They are
not necessarily the aims of permaculture. Unpruned trees have the following features:
* less risk of disease from cut surfaces;
0 smaller but more numerous fruit, greater yield per unit;
St stronger frames;
0 fit into mixed forest, crop, animal husbandry; and
9 uneven ripening, more difficult harvesting or spraying.
Ladder and windfall harvest, self-harvest, and far less work offset most of the latter setbacks.
Like “free-range” poultry, farm woodlots may be frequently mentioned but seldom specified
as to their use on farms. Rather, farmers are encouraged to plant trees suited to central processing
for wood pulp, or for off-farm, commercial markets. However, many on-farm needs also exist,
and these may be:
0 fuel (from high sugar crops);
0 structural (fences and buildings);
forage (winter and summer feed); and
0 shelter (which can be provided by species suited to forage or structural use).
Some very valuable trees, such as black walnut, not only produce young trees for structural use,
but may be sold out as rootstock for grafting, and at maturity en,ehre the farmer to retire on the
crop income (timber of great value).
For structures, species of long natural durability in the ground are first choice. Such species are
listed below:
Vw- High Durability
(70 years or more in the ground)
*Strawberry Jam Acacia
*Black Locust
Almost all cedars
River Red Gum
Huon Pine
(Acacia acuminata)
(Robinia pseudoacacia)
(Catalpa speciosa)
(Cedrus spp .)
(Juniperus communis)
(E. camaldulensis)
(A throtaxis franklinii)
*Signifiesspeciesrecommendedas multi-use species.(SeeSchery, R. W.,
Allen and Untin,
(30-70 years)
*Red Mulberry
*Osage Orange
Bald Cypress
*Honey Locust
*White Oak
Tasmanian Tallowood
Oyster Bay Pine
Desert Oak
Celery-top Pine
(Castanea dentata)
(Morus rubra)
(Madura punifera)
(Taxodium distychum)
(Sequoia sempivereus)
(Gleditsia triacanthos)
(Quercus alba)
(Pittospoorum bicolor)
(Cupressus macrocarpa)
(Callitris tmmanica)
(Casuarina decaisnea)
(Phyllodadus rhomboidalis)
No doubt this list can be greatly expanded, but from any such list the farmer can choose
shelter-belt, hedgerow, and cattle or poultry forage species, bee forage and plants which yield
foliage or fruit for distillation (as oils or alcohols). Some suit arid, others riverine or coastal conditions. Some (most of the conifers) are useful mainly as timber, and are therefore less generally
useful in the system, as well as being slow-growing.
Plant barriers may be erected, with or without supporting fences, for a variety of reasons:
0 to contain or exclude livestock;
0 to shelter gardens and houses from wind;
0 to increase the efficiency of wind and sun;
0 to prevent re-invasion by unwanted plants; and
0 to screen unwanted views and sounds.
It is the first of these categories that is most difficult to satisfy. Almost the only tree 1 know
which stops everything, but needs no pruning is Lycium ferocissimum, or African boxthorn, and
it will stop bulls, lions, and weed invasion, resist salt spray and gales, and feed poultry (the latter
also disappear into it without recourse). In coastal sandy areas, the crown tends to spread
gradually to about 7 m wide, and plants may seed down, but the cost of uprooting seedlings every
50 years or so is small compared with the frequent attention needed to keep less ferocious
hedgerows tight. This, then, is the ultimate hedge-barrier for broadscale, large livestock containment. Cautious browsing by stock sometimes occurs, but an established Lycium hedge is a stable,
wide fence, In pastures and on heavy soils it has no tendency to spread as seedlings.
Lycium compounds or ‘bomas’ of dead branches will protect plantings of more useful trees,
and clipped branches will deter rabbits if strewn around seedlings. Others recommended jujube
and Rosa multiflora or Rosa rugosa for equally formidable barriers, both need hard stopping or
pruning in their first few years. Logsden (that useful man) also reports glowingly on Osage orange
(O.G.F.S., America, May, 1978).
Hawthorn (Crataegus) species live-set at (60 - 90 cm) and later layered or interwoven with dead
trimmings is the traditional livestock hedge of Europe (and Tasmania), but needs cutting to shape
every 4-6 years. All such hedges are made more efficient either by a few strands of barbed wire
strained through them in their infancy, by ditch and bank approaches, or by permanent electric
wire protection.
Logsden also includes the redoubtable and never-browsed red cedar, the honey locust and
shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria). Cacti too are effective in dry areas, as are unpalatable or thorny
local species.
Inside the more impenetrable hedges, only woven or netted palisades repel small livestock, but I
have seen these made as tight as baskets in the Caspian Sea area, where living papyrus uprights,
interwoven with dead stems, are used. The beautiful middle-European woven fences illustrated by
Williams9 have been duplicated by Tagari, using local wattle, ti-tree (Melaleuca) or ‘whipstick’
regrowth, and of course bamboo would serve equally well.
Combination weave and thorn quickset hedges are fairly quickly established, but for the nongrazier (most of us) less fierce hedgerow is needed. Prockter, in his most useful book on garden
hedges, gives a wealth of detail and species for a great variety of soils and exposures, with much
data on hedge propagation.
So much for the exclusion of livestock; we come now to plant barriers as windbreak systems. It
is essential that windbreaks do what they are intended to do, that is, break the force of the wind,
as well as performing as many other functions as we can build in. Some of these are:
act as firebreaks where this is a crucial factor;
store up emergency fodder for a variety of animals;
make it easier to cultivate, or to use implements;
provide bee forage and insectivorous bird cover and nesting sites;
give at least some cull wood for construction timbers;
0 contain at least some species which can be used to diversify farm product in emergencies; and
0 conserve soil and clean run-off water, and prevent erosion.
The shape of the windbreak should be very much that of the “sun-trap” shown in Fig. 4.5.
(Trellis on walls, earth banks and dam spoil will create other and more local suntraps.)
When we come to productive wind shelter (cattle excluded) mixed hedgerow of Prunus,
Crataegus, Coprosrna, Malus (crab apple), hazel, bamboo, fuchsia and vines are wonderful
wildlife and forage habitat. Again, enclosures of bamboo or “fields” of pampas grass, paspalum,
sudax, ti-tree and like thickset species are essential winter shelter for newly-shorn sheep, ewes in
lamb, or for emergency snow retreats for wildlife. In dry areas we look to tall tamarisk,
casuarina, mulga (Acacia aneura), eucalypt and similar drought-proof trees to protect the soil
from dessicating winds. This also applies to the reduction of evaporation in open ponds.
Within the confines of the annual garden, clipped Coprosma, tree lucerne and Leucaena supply
not only wind protection, but manurial mulch for their leaves and branchlets, or material for the
Against the burning of salt winds Coprosma, Euonymusjaponicas, sea buckthorn (Hippophae
lamnoides), “fedges” of scramblers such as Tetragonia implexa and tall stands of pines are our
Temporary summer windbreaks are provided by sunflower, jerusalem artichoke, belts (not
rows) of polebeans and corn, and autumn-winter clumps of broad beans. But in very severe winds
perennials are necessary. Tiny hedges of clipped rosemary protect small herb gardens and
Escallonia rnacrantha or wormwood gives a soft silver edge to seaside gardens.
A certain series of plants will halt invading couch grass, twitch, oxalis and the like; these have
either matted roots (bamboo, pampas, lemongrass) or have very dense foliage (comfrey,
Coprosma, Lycium). Of such hedges we can border our inner mulched and controlled areas.
Some of these barriers can be “reinforced”
with marigolds (against twitch) to the inside, oaks
and pines without, and so resist or totally prevent ground-weed incursions into gardens.
Climate, even more than landscape and soil needs specific design. For all practical purposes,
man lives and gardens in only three broad climatic regions:
0 the temperate and sub-tropical areas of winter rain and hot summers (the area most considered in this book);
* the tropical humid areas of summer rain;
0 and the arid lands, where rain is irregular but may come as flash floods or sudden downpours.
Cold deserts, arctic and mountain climates, and equatorial jungles are little occupied by man,
and thus play little part in the world economy, although all have useful plants. Coastlines are not
climates as such, but have many common aspects, and share with deserts the problems of wind
and salt, so that coasts in general deserve specific treatment. In the following section I will deal
briefly with the tropical and coastal lands, and more extensively with arid areas, as these are of
greater extent in Australia and the third world.
Perhaps the most pressing problem of the third world, and of much of the western world, is the
rehabilitation of arid lands. Once the trees have been totally removed, the goat and camel flocks
have killed all regrowth and the soil blown away or salted, re-afforestation is a problem. So is
gardening. And yet, like all problems, we can find solutions. Some of these lie in studying the
techniques of oasis dwellers like the Papago Indians of Tucson, described by Andersen:lB
“Those clever agriculturalists grow ancient crops, specialized kinds of corn, beans, and
squashes which will produce a useable harvest on fewer inches of rainfall than are used
anywhere else in the world.”
Few nations are showing the positive approach of the Chinese, who use straw mats to subdue
sand dunes, and plant millions of trees in their baskets through this stable cover (having now
abandoned the folly of trying to grow grain on these areas).
There are two approaches to the arid lands, neither as yet tried on a very extensive scale:
using species and techniques of known effect (as for the Tucson Indians);
@ devising new techniques in the modern idiom (as for the bitumen “mulch” used in Morocco).
Both need to be used in any integrated approach to desert rehabilitation. Although we have impoverished the flora and fauna of many deserts, we can recombine the remnant species of all
deserts to make a rich agriculture. My own limited experience with Aboriginal Australians trying
to farm in very arid conditions prompts the strategies given here.
The text which follows is derived from a report to the agricultural advisers of the Australian inland, completed by the writer earlier this year. Interest in the strategies noted has been high, and
the original report is therefore collapsed into this book for more general use. Some plant species
have been added to the original, and the whole may make a small contribution to third-world
desert reclamation. Emphasis is on Australian species and problems, and particular13 the aoctai
issue of Aboriginal nutrition a.nd survival.
The strategies outlined derive from visits to the Ernabella and Papunya settlements of central
Australia, and other journeys to western Victoria, West Australia and arid N.S.W. Problems of
the desert and semi-desert are sometimes shared with humid areas (winter frosts from April to
September, compacted soils, fragile sandy areas) and are otherwise peculiar to tropics (termite attack on living trees) or to deserts themselves (heavy populations of feral donkeys, horses and cattle).
At Ernabella, the annual rainfall varies between (at worst) 50 mm and (at best) 640 mm. An
average of 250 mm therefore means little and is locally irrelevant if the run-off from rock domes
and the reserves of water in river-beds, at bores, and in dunes or dry river sands is taken into account.
Where we have hills, there is a well-marked frost-line at about 9-15 m elevation on slopes, so
and “temperate” crops are both possible on the same slope.
that “tropical”
The broad strategies of desert re-afforestation are now well tested. Hostile drying winds, rivers,
and local oases are the focal points for expanding the vegetation: if we start from up-stream,
securing the headwaters and catchments, from up-wind, and from oases, then plants generate
moisture downstream, down-wind, and locally.
In many areas, run-off from bare or rocky areas increases effective precipitation, so that small
areas of a few acres to fifty acres or so may be selected where good underground or runoff water
is available for gardens. Rock-holes, some small dams, rock seepage, underground water in soaks
or sandy river beds, bores, wells, windmills and tank-water from roof catchment all assist
gardens, and run-off properly directed would make gardening possible in many places. The aim is
to use many more deep-rooted and climatically-adjusted perennial plants for food and structural
materials, in order that desert outstations may become more self-sufficient, and to devise lowmaintenance systems of domestic agriculture.
The less these methods rely on sophisticated machinery, transport, and fossil fuels, the better it
will be for future survival, so that more natural methods take preference in view of the state of the
petrol economy.
The native vegetation of all deserts still presents a great resource, although fire/grazing interaction and the presence of very large numbers of feral livestock and (in some places) rabbits, makes
for great diificulty in establishing new plantings unless these are well-fenced and protected.
Treeless areas are evolving due to overgrazing after fire. Many small native animals are scarce or
locally extinct due to foxes, dingoes, feral cats, wild dogs, and the large feral species of herbivores.
Camp dogs in and near settlements keep feral grazing species at bay, and after recent rains
around Ernabella there followed a dense regrowth of saltbush, acacia, and river red gum. But
these same dogs also present problems with new plantings and with poultry, although older people cling to them for night warmth in camp conditions.
First, 1 must state that in my opinion, based on real examples sighted, that the “dead centre” is
a myth. Not only will many important vegetables and tree crops grow in deserts, but the native
vegetation, where not overburnt or overgrazed, is, in itself, a great resource.
Water lies close underground in many places. Mulch material, as plants or leaves, is abundant.
Growth in desert soil is phenomenal if water is available. Modern drip-irrigation plus mulch will
grow any domestic crop. While lawns, as such, are rather wasteful disasters, the potential is for a
revolutionary forestry, and thus increased rainfall, and a reduction of dust and disease. China is
planting 7,600 km of her desert fringe; Australia could do the same, but hasn’t as yet started on
the first 7 km, preferring to have an unemployment problem, dust, salted soils, and large profits
for a few graziers! There has been little or no attempt to develop large desert water storages, or to
encourage scour-hole lagoons, and no extensive use of keyline or Negev run-off techniques,
although road graders are now available for such work.
The potential is great, but funding and government support are not very evident to this year.
The outstanding movement of the Aboriginal people has enormous possibilities for pioneering
arid-land agriculture, and should be funded and supplied with the necessary species and
materials, as a valuable contribution to our fundamental knowledge of the great areas of arid
lands here and overseas, and for the evaluation of techniques for use on a wider scale.
The sad present condition is that most food, not of good quality due to transportation difficulties, is imported to settlements, and as petrol becomes scarcer and more expensive greater
hardships will result for all sectors of the population. Therefore there cannot be too much emphasis on trials of new species on a broader scale and an emphasis on home gardens rather than
commercial plantings is needed at this stage (these latter may come later as a result of the smaller
trials in gardens and after the basic survival of residents is assured).
For Aboriginal lands attention to cultural differences is important, if not critical, to the acceptance of new techniques. We can make too much of this, however, as people such as Horace
Winitja at Ernabella, Johnny Kantawara at Warren Creek, and many others not mt%ioned are in
fact producing good gardens of annuals, and the demand for trees from the nursery at Ernabella
exceeds supply. Two factors need to he accounted for: one is the rightful authority of guardians
to protect any sacred sites, or direct the sort of gardens that are :o be tried nearby; the other is the
“sorry camp” which means that all people move from a pla::e where someone has died. The
former does not exclude very much land fr,om tree crop considerations, and the latter may be accounted for by the establishment of a separate “sorry camp” nearby gardens. The sacredness of
certain trees like the native fig (i/i) in some areas must also be respected, although this does not
preclude usage as a vine trellis while elsewhere it may be used in more pr:.jfane ways for hybridization or rootstock.
Children need the same familiarity with cultivated species as they have with wild plants, and
this will come in time as trees become more common (the habit in wild gathering may be to break
off a branch and pick fruit from that). Certain vegetables are unfamiliar, and need to be ‘learnt’
before they are food, or are picked at the right stage. There are, nevertheless, many favourite
foods in cultivated fruits and nuts, and experience will give skills in using these.
White ants (termites) are a problem peculiar to tropical Australia, ordinary ants, in great quantity, another; eel-worm (nematodes) is a pest in market gardens at Alice Springs, and cabbage
moth is generally distributed. Hawk moth larvae attack vines, as ever, and dogs make it difficult
to keep small livestock. Fruit-fly is a problem in some areas, but is local in distribution. Absent
are possum, blackbird, starling, sparrow and other such nuisances of the temperate grower.
Fencing, mulch, tree polyculture practices, and the use of forage poultry under tree or vine
species would greatly reduce all pests. Many hardy tree species seem, in any case, little-affected.
Local pest controllers such as Moloch horridus, the ant-eating Mingari or Mountain Devil may be
of help, as would guinea fowl. Marigold (Tag&es) control 90% of eelworms, and these together
with pyrethrum daisies may help with termites. There are many termite-resistant trees in the area.
Wallflower extract helps with cabbage moth control (blended and sprayed) and other natural controls could be tried. Mike Lubke (N.S.W.) reports that they are attracted to, and lay eggs on, the
Datura Lily (Bnrgmansia), but the larvae do not then pupate. Wood-ash and sour milk are also
recommended by Neil Douglas, and the harmless derris dust is a complete control. Fruit-fly is not
a problem in the presence of ground scavengers such as poultry, which also help with termites.
Local Stratqjes 1
These fall under the following categories:
* home gardens for local survival (selected design in settlement);
0 broadscale planting for climate modification
* run-off or local selected site planting.
Here the aim is to make gardening an integral part of desert living. Around the house (wilfja) in
the pest-protected, fenced and guarded areas, where feral herbivores have least effect, rabbits are
kept at bay by dogs, and most organic wastes accumulate. Water must be present for settlement
to persist, and thus the wastewater from showers, toilets, and roof areas is available.
There is a combined aim in gardening: first, to use such resources productively, and second, to
alter the house or wiltja climate while so doing. As in temperate areas, sheet mulch is an answer.
Useful species for mulch provision, and as street and garden shade trees are mulga (Acacia
aneura), tamarisk, any of the desert oaks or casuarinas, and tall eultivated bamboo, grain or
sugar cane wastes, Paulownia, Acacia albida, and Leucaena.
Trickle irrigation plus mulch is the key to water conservation, the reduction of salt and carbonate accumulation, and the buffering of pH values, as humic acids tend to offset the effect of
highly alkaline soil. Ploughing only increases alkalinity to intolerable levels. Around wiltjas the
area is swept free of burrs, and bones and ashes can be added to the mulch, as can the droppings
of cattle, dogs, and other feral species. The result will be less rubbish for flies, thus less eye problems, less old clothes to carry scabies and attract pests. Heat plus water causes rapid breakdown
of all materials mentioned. Topping up with leaves is the main maintenance activity. Few, if any,
special tools are needed, and digging is superfluous.
House planning:
The following suggestions are made with a view to modifying the climate in and around the
traditional house or wiltja. In so doing I am not implying that wiltjas are necessarily the most
desirable of dwellings.‘The people themselves must be given the opportunity to decide the types of
structures they would prefer, and the funding to build them. Thus it is not suggested that welldesigned houses are not needed at outstations, but that, at present, the existing structures could
be more productively designed.
By erecting deciduous vine trellis (grape) or trees (Acacia albida) to the north, evergreen vine
trellis as an arbour to the south (Tecoma vine does well here) the climate of the house is correctly
modified. Vine trellis over wiltja roof, and ivy or trellis on house walls has a similar effect (Fig.
Tall tamarisk, white cedar and giant bamboo could be used to screen cold SE winds and provide mulch, and light foliaged Paulownia or A. albida to the north providing shade for both
house and crops also helps. In the cool arbours, strawberries, mint, blackcurrant, gooseberry and
soft herbs will grow, again in deep mulch for water retention. The “yuu” or windbreak near the
wiltja can be provided by smaller bamboo, or as screens to prevent cold air-flow along house
walls in winter. Trellis and deciduous species provide shade to the north. If Tecorrla or ivy grows
over the roof, so much the better.
A small or strongly-constructed roof can be soil-covered, mulched, and planted to ice-plants,
cacti, succulents, and hardy desert species. Watered, these roofs yield cool air in summer, and act
as external insulation for winter cold. Vines on walls, or on trellis set out from walls, have a
similar effect on heat loss and gain.
The Ngumpa (shade house), yuu (windbreak) and wiltja (house) are fairly sophisticated designs
for comfort. It may be advantageous to make these permanent ‘grown’ shelters (as per Fig. 5.1)
for hunters or for overnight camps, especially if soil-covered and mulched. Yuu can be easily
grown. These tactics save cutting mulga at camps.
All these strategies provide climatic amelioration and save fuel. A schematic wiltja (Fig. 5.1)
could be tried out as an outdoor living environment. All suggested adaptations can be made to existing structures, or designed into new houses. At present, hot water from solar collectors is proving to be very satisfactory, and light for wiltjas from solar panels plus battery is certainly possible,
as are solar-electric fences for wild cattle and camels. Dry toilet systems could be installed at
outstations, or areas reserved for burial of faeces in tree-crop sites.
The ngumpa is used by Kim Tjitayi to shade his ducks. Traditionally these are thatched and
sheltered with pole, spinifex piled on top. The same spinifex should go to mulch after use, and
provides good insulation for roofing (Fig. 5.1). Ginger Wikilyiri is trying grape vine or trellis to
evolve a shade puri, and there is little doubt that combinations of bamboo, trellis, spinifex and
vine would make for very comfortable living outdoors, or as attached arbours on houses in hot
weather. Andrew Prior is to try the modified “Mortlock”
or tree-like trellis devised by Brian
Coombs at Waite Hort. College, Adelaide.
In permanent houses shower water can be led to slotted pipe drains under the shadehouse or
garden. At wiltjas, pebble mounds with showers overhead would provide water treatment and
garden moisture for citrus crop or vines. Many showers, so placed, make garden watering an
automatic process, and washing-up, shower, bath or washing water containing soap, led under
mulch, is a benefit, not a nuisance. It is a matter of integrating the garden with the waste water
from washing processes.
Sewage and sullage:
The safest disposal of sewage is in pipes or trenches below plants. The lagoon or pond for soiled water at Ernabella is not yet planted, but is the ideal site for dates, plums, and peaches, both
on the banks and around the pond, where the water seeps to the creek underground. Even the
most paranoid of health inspectors would approve this safe conversion of waste water to
Sludge from septic tanks can be let go into pre-dug planting holes, filled over, and dates,
mulberry, or fig planted. Grapes bear fruit (from cuttings) in 18 months in this climate! Similarly,
raked or mown plant material can be pit-mulched and covered near planting holes. Raking under
bamboo or tamarisk serves too purposes:
0 to provide seed-free mulch; and
0 to protect the mother plant from fire.
Termite-proofing timbers:
Early trials of cold-soak (butt-soak) treatment for fence and trellis would save much timber in
future. Bamboo, mulga and eucalypt should be butt-soaked in “Tanalith”
before use. Present
vine trellis is of radiata pine so treated, and should last indefinitely.
(copper-chrome-arsenic salts) is available from agricultural suppliers, and comes with an instruction booklet which should be requested. Treated timber is safe for children to handle, but should
never be burnt as both fumes and residues are quite toxic.
This is an essential technique, as termites eat, in a few years, valuable posts which take forever
to grow. Trellis and bean sticks also could be treated to advantage. Tanalith is also a handy
‘paint’ for exposed planks. In hot weather, a three-day soak suffices. Poles should be trimmed
and cut to length before treatment so that treated waste is minimised. Bark may be mulched on
gardens, as are (chopped) foliage and twigs, in orchard”‘. Many termite resistant species exist or
can be grown.
Ideal relationships (water, etc.) Fig. 5.2
The ideal relationship of water, wiltja and garden is fairly clear. Any advantage of slope is
ideal, so that settlements like Willy’s at Ullumparu is a model. Here a rocky cleft was damned by
hand (concrete and stone) to retain a clean clearwater pond. Overflow goes to a larger swimming
pool edged with sweet rush. From the top pond a pipe leads water over 1200 m or so to the wrttju
area, at head. Showers can later be sited in the garden, and moved as trees establish around them.
Windmills (petrol-free) are very effective in raising water to height. Mike Last and Andrew
Prior plan a 7.5 m model. This allows growing above the frost line (on hill slopes) of more
tropical crop, further protected by A. albida, Paulownia etc. for frost protection. Guava, pawpaw and mango may then be grown on foothih or slopes. Neither high rock dams nor windmills
need a great deal of attention; the gears of the mills lubricate quite well with castor oil, or jojoba
oil, which also grows well in arid areas, and needs only a crude press to process.
Tanks on hills and ridges, if not covered, produce abundant green algae and mosquitoes.
Goldfish (Chinese carp) and grass carp eat both these nuisances, and provide occasional meals.
Earth floors in tanks or dams also support freshwater mussels, themselves excellent water filters
and food, and shell-grit for poultry. Native snails provide grit for ducks, who appreciate these
pests. Mosquito control can be provided for by using small fish in standing water.
Bulk seed of, for example, date palm, jujube, cork oak, pistachio, plum, white cedar,
tamarisk, sweet chestnut, honey locust, carob, mesquite, paulownia and bulk cuttings of grape,
fig, tamarisk, mulberry and coprosma could be set out over’ trial areas, selecting niches for special
plantings. Stone and desert pines would be a probable success on ridges, as would desert oaks.
Asparagus may take well in river sands, where some wild plants were observed, and like hardy
species also. If limited trials succeeded, these or similar resources could be spread on a
broadscale. Burrs (for rabbits), cacti, and wormwood (not eaten by cattle) could help protect
seedlings, Success may depend on the reduction of feral browsers, or on the protection of trees by
natural thorn and rock-crevice situations. Plates or divisions of cacti would almost certainly succeed. The system is worth diversified broadscale trials.
Erosion control on dry slopes:
The “net and pan” planting pattern of Figs. 5.3 and 5.4 is an effective control in overgrazed,
eroded, mined or bulldozed sites. If tyres are available, the “pans” can be made from these, filled
with mulch, and the diversion drains led in above the tread level. Some fortunate people have access to logs, which can be staked cross-slope, on a slight downhill grade so that water is made to
zig-zag across the erosion face, and hence absorb into the ground. Even small logs and branches,
pegged across erosion channels build up a layer-cake of silt and leaves, beside which willow, titree, acacia, or any other fibrous-rooted and hardy species can be planted, which then act as a
permanent silt trap. Mulch behind logs and barriers quicklv stabilizes the seed bed for planting.
Fallen leaves and scattered dung also accumulate in these mini-deltas to provide plant nutrients.
On very steep slopes there is often no recourse other than to plant pampas, bamboo, and rootmat pioneers, and to make upslope plantings of chestnut, acacia, carob, olive or other large
species which will cascade seed downslope over time. Where implements such as chisel ploughs
can be used, the same pattern of net and pan is effective in erosion control.
What we tend to see however, are fairly massive contour trenches, allowing little soil absorption of water, creating dry strips on slopes, and exposing a great deal of subsoil; such heavyhanded approaches need massive machinery, and achieve little in the way of water control and
soil improvement, compared with planned chiselling and planting, which makes a permanent and
stable change on hillsides.
These apply to areas of high natural runoff, such as the base of domed rock, Piedmont at valley
mouths, rock seepage areas, and old sheep pens where large quantities of dung make
underground water sponges. Andrew Prior and Kim Tjitaya are testing out several such sites with.
olives, pistachio, grape, mulberry, fig, and apricot, as well as adapting small rock domes by the
use of concrete gutters, hand moulded (Figs. 5.5-5.1 I). Such sites repay fencing to discourage
large feral species. Solar electric fences would help, and outside barriers of cactus, jujube, wormwood and bamboo could be developed into barrier hedges. Evenari” and Yeomans’ recommend
that any area of runoff be in the ratio of 16 or 20 : 1, or that a dome of 8 hectares be led to a
garden of 4000 m* (1 acre) or so.
Clay pans, playa, domes, bare rocky ground and Piedmont slopes can be graded to lead all runoff water to small, chisel-ploughod areas where permanent crop or gardens can be established.
Already, existing roads provide one such resource. Allen Jenkins, of Papunya, suggests that the
numerous graded road drains be led to walled and chiselled enclosures, or directly planted to
trees, and new drains graded as these establish. At present, the drains themselves show an improved growth of trees. Road graders are available (if infrequently) to try out such techniques, and the
plantings at Ernabella using Evanari’s idea grow eucalypt and tamarisk at present. Automatic
siphoning could be a feature of such impoundments, as rain is unpredictable. Again, small trials
would suffice to test these methods (see Figs. 5.12 and 5.13).
Clay-pan, playa or dome led to small covered underground ramp tanks greatly assist the survival of useful quail, pigeon and poultry in arid lands, and fish can be used to keep them clear (see
Fig. 5.14). The use of plastic sheet over holes, or mounds in salted water (see Maggsz71, p. 120) are
techniques which may serve small gardens or individual trees. Some very stony country (as at
Ullumparu) present opportunities for rock-mulched garden on a larger scale, using 60-90 cm lines
of gathered stone to mulch between plant rows (Fig. 5.17). Philip Gall (in conversation) says that
Aborigines of West Australia use a modification of this technique to trap night moisture for
drinking (see Fig. 5.19).
All of this needs time, machinery in establishment, and hard work, but the end result is a lowmaintenance system, repairable by hand labour only.
.. .
2 . Lwstock
At Ernabella, cattle and rabbt ‘ts, and at Papunya brumbies and camels (fewer rabbits) make
garden establishment difficult, while eating out traditional Aboriginal wild-food plants (60% are
judged extinct, the rest greatly decreased). Damage to young trees and broken branches on old
trees are obvious. Numbers of herbivores are very large-an estimated 6,000 cattle and 20-30,000
brumbies (wild horses) on Aboriginal outstation land, which supports only 1,700 or so humans!
The animals, at present a disaster in that environment, could represent a potential cash resource if
their utilization was properly funded, and planned by a group of people alloted to this problem
Culling by cattle stations, who muster stock from Aboriginal lands, has left a lot of older bulls
and cows. Many of these are of use only as sausage meat or pet food. After December, or in dry
periods, the feral species are easily trapped on waterholes, using existing techniques of trap-yards
and swing gates (Figs. 5.22 & 5.23). Other pote;l!ial products are dried meats, hides, leather,
horn, blood and bone and selected export camels for Saudi Arabia, or selected horses for
southern markets.
Approved trailer-mounted processing units may be one answer, and market research is needed.
(I may mention, as an aside, that Kew Gardens btiries a horse each year at the base of an old grape
vine, and harvests some 7 tons of grapes). But to poison or destroy all these animals is a waste of a
potential cash resource and gainful employment.
Bulls and bull camels are a danger to people on foot, especially at night. Their fouling and
breaking-down of river-bed and waterhole are obvious, and they prevent tree regrowth over immense areas of land. On dune country animal tracks cause bare sand to blow in wind. There is no
doubt that smaller “softer” species such as poultry, wallaby, emu, and euro or kangaroo are to
be preferred. Such small meats need no freezing as they can be eaten at one sitting, and cause little
damage to the environment. The potential for utilization of feral species is obvious, but, again,
needs personnel and funding to succeed. The whole question of feral species needs a separate
team to resolve it. Automatic trapping at tanks and water holes has been perfected. The problems
are transport or processing. Alternatives (distasteful) are mass burials in areas to be planted.
Foxes and feral cats are special problems. The rabbit (outside fences) is seen as an important
food resource for nomadic peoples, and largely replaces small marsupial meats for families on
outstations. Judicious regional poisoning in the early establishment phase of desert forests seems
to be the answer for the rabbit. Ultimately, as suggested by Frith27b total destruction of feral
species should be the aim. Their presence means a severe reduction in native species (animal and
plant) iuld a reliance on domestic meats until the rangelands recover for emu, kangaroo, euro,
wallaby, and regrowth of the native plants that were once the support of the nomadic tribes.
Ducks and hens, their eggs and surplus breeders, would seem to be the main potentiai source of
domestic protein. In tree crop areas, they also present opportunities for pest control (of ants, termites, snails) and are useful (as rakes) in fire control. Housed in insulated (spinifex) shelters on
the south side of glasshouses (Fig. 8.3) they prevent night frosts in winter, by emission of body
Guinea fowl and pigeons should be considered as prime candidates for camp food resources;
the latter in traditional dovecotes, and the former as herded flocks, Both supply eggs, and meat.
In mulga areas, a great deal of natural seed falls, and guinea fowl also utilize many insect foods
and pests. On range, poultry may need elevated roosts and nest boxes (on pipes) to escape foxes
and goannas. Pigeons in dovecotes are immune to fox predation (Fig. 5.24).
Fish have many uses, even, as mentioned previously, in the reduction of algae and mosquito
larvae in tanks. Together with yabbies and mussels in dams, they also have some protein potential. Native fish species may be recommended by the Narrandera (NSW) hatchery, but in any case
there is no risk of fish escapes via the desert and salt pans that buffer these areas from permanent
streams. For this reason alone, deserts are an important trial site for water poiyculture species.
Bees present an opportunity not only for honey but for pollen. Pollen traps (Ref. 28) are
available now, and would supply high protein flour additives for outstations.
Native animal species:
The review by Frith 27bis rather gloomy, and there is an obvious dearth of native Australian
species at outstations. Some small reptiles (Moloch horridus, geckoes) may be of use in ant control and pest control in glasshouses, as would frogs (pools provided).
Shooting, particularly at night, kills many kangaroo rejected for food because of no fat or
yellow fat. Baited compounds or traps at water holes make far more sense, as fat-free, female,
and old male animals can be released to breed again, and only the imrxature and well-conditioned
animals taken for food. I believe that active planting of emu berry, honey locust, tree lucerne and
like forage may increase native animal numbers, but only if very selective trapping, not indiscriminate broadscale shooting, is envisaged. The real solution lies with the extermination of
the feral ruminants, and with them, many of the flies that carry disease. Meanwhile, domestic exotics are needed at the outstations.
There are many areas, known to the Aborigines, where wallaby and rat-kangaroo survive.
These could be nucleii for spreading harmless native species into the homelands if feral herbivores
were controlled nearby.
In gathering seeds and small fruits, the Aborigine rakes clean the leaves from under selected
trees, spreads skins or makes a funnel in sand, then beats the trees to bring down fruit or seed. By
so doing, he has incidentally protected the tree from fire, provided a drip-line mulch, and thus
altered the chance of survival of high-yielding trees. This is just another example of how, in his
long history in Australia, the Aborigine has acted as a de facto agricuituralist. GollanJo records
how they also stored seed in clay-lined pits, baskets, wood or stone hollows and transported seed
over great distances, trying out such plants as native tobacco (Mingkulpa) at selected sites. Meats
were dried, mussels stored in damp sand, and clay domes were made.
Mulching is no new thing either. Waterholes were thatched over to prevent evaporation, and it
took only one demonstration with old blankets, cardboard, clothes and mulga or tamarisk “hay”
to persuade Aboriginal gardeners that mulch was a good thing for water conservation. By
mulching, the ashes, bones, and litter around camps are converted into rich garden soil, aided by
water from showers, washing and kitchen preparation. The action of soil fungi, termite and
bacteria in the heat of central Australia, quickly reduces potertially noxious wastes to soil, hence
to a food resource.
5. 1
It has been traditional for the Aboriginal children, and adults, to break off mulga twigs and
branches to gather mistletoe berries, scale-insect sugars, and edible galls. Some effort must be
made to show correct methods of harvesting introduced fruits such as grapes, oranges, and smallfruit to people unused to picking the fruit, rather than the tree.
Sophisticated tracking skills are evident, as is skill in food preparation. A very large (and large!y ttnrecordedj vocabuiary exists, detaiiing food piants, fire effects and control, the links between
species, and general ecological patterning. Combined efforts by linguists, botanists, astronomers,
ecologists, and generalists are needed to recover the detailed information of the older people of
the deserts, and to record the uses of plants for food and medicines.
This is very worthwhile on medical grounds alone, but more so for the potential value of native
plant species in arid lands generally, or for their use in areas where tribal knowledge has been lost.
Aside from garden and orchard, the rehabilitation of natural foods, and enclosures, there are
other techniques applicable to arid lands. Perpetual grain plots, unploughed, can yield about
11,750 kg of grain per hectare (10,500 lb/acre), plus legume seed. Such a system would be ideally
sited under vine crop or Paulownia: small trials of about 400 m2 (l/10 acre) are needed.
Using the CSIRO “ripple-flow”
process, all grains, sunflower and legumes can be hulled and
ground to flour in one machine. This machine needs a 16 h.p. (tractor) motor, and hulls or grinds
4-5 tonnes of grain per hour, so is suited to central processing in small settlements and communities. Purchase price at $4,500.00 means many people must use one machine, although a
similar but smaller model may be developed in the future. Trials on native seeds such as mulga
would be useful.
It is very probable, with the many useful acacia species present in arid areas, that a successful
forage system could be quickly evolved. Some poultry forage species are suggested below:
Sun-flower: Does well everywhere. Heads can be cut off and fed entire to poultry. Resists fire. A
trellis for lab-lab and pole bean crop. A good short-term windbreak, provides some mulch.
Almost wild at Alice Springs, Papunya, Emabella. Husked, it provides good oil and food for
humans. Deserves broadscale trials as a ‘grain’ crop. Unopened heads can be eaten as a vegetable.
Millets: Sorghum, sweet corn, sudax. As above. Sudax as a mulch/border species, sorghum for
sugar, seed. All can be used as human food or forage.
Panicum decompositum (Native millet or Kalta kalta)
Eragrostis eriopoda (Wangana)
Portulaca oleracea (Wakati)
Themeda austrafia (Kangaroo grass)
Owenia reticulata (Emu berry, Marloo, Gnarloopooj
Chenopodium rhadinostachyum
Paspalidum jubiflorum
Acacia aneura (Mulga, Wata or Kuraku)
A. kempeana (also for witchetty grubs)
A. boloserica
A. cowleana
A. victoriae
A. binervata
A. longifolia
A. peuce
A. oswaldia
(all of the above have been used as food plants for man with the exception of Emu Berry (Owenia)
eaten by emu and crested pigeon).
Acacia sp. (mungona): and many species of large-seeded edible berries, including those of the
mulga mistletoe (Ngantja) and a black-berried evergreen (Awaluru); poultry would also utilize the
nut-grass (Yalga)
Add to these, the exotics:
Tree lucerne (Chaemocytisus proliferus)
Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
Honey locust (Cleditsia friacanthos) (also for pole timbers)
Banana passionfruit (Passiflora mollisima) (Stands frost)
Mesquites (Prosopis spp.)
Olive (also for oil)
Lucerne (also for sprouts, green forage)
first-class poultry fodder, esp. white mulberry
Chinquapin oak (Quercus muhlenbergii) (sweet acorn)
Helm oak (Q. ilex, evergreen)
Cork oak (Q. suber-also for cork)
Chestnut oak (Q. prinus)
Plus any of the desert oaks obtainable. All acorns are good fodder for storage. Some are sweet to
eat. Acacia albida (see Ref. 17) could also be of use.
The CSIRO, Division of Plant Industry, Canberra have seed of a perennial rye and millet, well
worth forage trials.
If an area of mulga were fenced and selected breeds of poultry tried out (with guinea fowl and
pigeon), the foregoing species would provide the bulk, if not all, of the fodder. Most species
could be introduced with mulga as the cover crop, and other less useful species gradually
eliminated. Close observation would give a lot more data on a free-range poultry system for arid
Surprisingly, ducks do well at Ernabella., but need special protection from dogs, foxes, etc.
Grain could be fed in early stages, and lab-lab beans tried for greens and ground cover, in
‘alternating’ pens.
Poultry on range in mixed orchards greatly reduce the larvae of insect pests, especially fruit fly
and termites.
As dams, tanks and lagoons are developed, more attention should be given to aquatics.
Gollan2g mentions a native wild rice, and the multiple uses of the water lily Nymphea gigantea
(stalks, tubers, seeds). Nardoo (a fern) is also an aquatic, as is native arrowroot. Trapa or
Eleocharis (water chestnuts) do well in this climate in S.W. Asia, as does Lotus. Sweet rush
(present, I think, at Ernabella) provides shoots and bulbs. Trapa should reduce summer evaporation from open tanks or darns.
Noteson Aboriginal Nutrition 6
Dr Archie Kalikorinus of the Aboriginal Medical Centre in Sydney agrees that improving nutrit.ion and hygiene at camps and in outstations would be “better than all the medical services” for
health (in conversation). High vitamin C content in fruit, especially for women before and during
pregnancy, is a prime aim. This is a good reason for involving women directly in the gardens.
Plants he recommends, which are possible to grow above frost level on slopes, are paw-paw,
mango, tomato, peppers. In addition, acerolu (Barbados cherry) parsley, and any green leaf crop
are also of value. Field testing of Vit. C. content of fruit juices is cheap and easy using the “C”
sticks developed by the Ames Co. This is a simple ‘dip’ indicator used to measure vitamin C content in mothers milk, urine, and plant juices. Both milk and urine should show high levels of excretion. Fresh fruit needing minimal care (no artificial fertilizers, sprays, or forcing) is best for
vitamin C content. Advisors and camp gardeners could test the success of their crops and check
on the urine of mothers and children, or teach them how to do this for themselves. The same tests
should be applied to native species, store “foods” and fruit juices supplied or bought on outstations.
Some investigation could be made (if it has not already) on the effects of clothing on Vit. D
synthesis, hence rickets in children. The publication “Modern Urine Chemistry” (Ames and Co.
1976) is available from the Miles Laboratories, 13, Spring St., Chatswood, NSW 2067, and may
be helpful in outstation health analyses.
(See also Refs. 17, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30)
Est. = already noted as thriving in arid Australia.
(Morus spp.).
Est. only red or black varieties. Could add white mulberry. Poultry
forage, high vitamin C, fruit can be ground to flour. Hardy, resists
white ant, fire.
Est. Attacked by termites. Needs careful site selection, also needs 5%
male trees in stands. High nutrient value for forage, people.
(Cerutonia siliqua),
Est. are oranges, lemons. Needed are limes, grapefruit, other citrus
spp. High vitamin C value. May need Tagetesunderstorey to control
(Robinia pseudoacacia)
Very durable timber and useful poultry seed, but spiny leaves are toxic
to stock in large quantities. Non-inflammable bark and foliage, hardy.
The toxic quality may be advantageous in many areas.
As above. Leaves not poisonous, edible beans.
(Gleditzia triacanthos)
(Olea europea)
Est. Useful oil crop and shade tree, easily propagated from cuttings.
Good poultry forage crop. Many species possible. Dates est. at
various centres. Queen palm, bobassus, oil palm etc. need trials. Hardy and useful plants along watercourses. Coconut possible.
Needs more varieties for trials, and possible hybrids with native figs.
(Ficus spp.)
Est. at Mt. Isa. Could be more widely grown in many areas.
(Mangifera indica) .
Est. hut needs wider trials.
(Anacardium occidentale)
(Calophyllum inophyllum)
Est. Characteristics not known.
Several selected fruiting species need wider trials. Usefu .l hedgerow
and non-irrigated crop species are available.
As for other untried species. Seedlings survive well.
(P. vet-u)
As above. Should succeed in frosty areas, along stream beds.
As above.
(Prunus dulcis)
(Prunus spp.).
As above. Many varieties are established but need wider trials,
especially prunes and gages.
Est. Needs wider trials as hedge.
(Zizyphus juju6).
Est. as seedlings. Should be a major summer fruit,
Pakistani spp. keep well into winter.
As above. Near watercourses.
(Prunus spp.)
(Guavuju, Pisidium,
True guava, feijoa, strawberry guava and ugni would all do well in
sheltered areas. Pisidium is est.
Banana passionfruit.
Stands frost, good poultry fodder.
(Pussifrore mollisimu).
Several species.
(Pinus, Auracuria).
P. coulteri
P. pinuster
P. pineu
A. bidwilli
Also the pinon of Mexico, other desert nut pines. Some est.
(Rhus lunceu)
South African. Est. Frost resistant, termite resistant. Fodder, small
edible berries are food for poultry.
Worth trials in small selected areas.
Est. Many cultivars do well. Some 26 varieties flourish.
Kudzu, hops, kiwi fruit and other vine crop would help with shade and
With native tomato, kangaroo apple, tamarillo and like Solanum spp.,
worth trials and hybrid trials or grafts to native stock. High vitamin C.
Capsicum and egg-plant should be perennial above frost line. Many of
these species est. Some very useful perennial species are local in use but
need selection and cultivation.
(Centroserniupubescens Est. Brings up moisture to topsoil (Yeomans, in conversation).
.Puulowniu spp.
As above. Aids in providing surface moisture.
As above. For frost-free areas.
Fire and frost resistant. Stock and poultry fodder.
(Chuemocytisus proliferus)
And several native acacias, as previously listed.
(Acacia aneuru)
Acacia albidu
“Wet deciduous’* in monsoon. Hardy, poultry fodder.
Coprosma repens
And other N.Z. species of Coprosma. Resist fire; poultry and stock
Bamboo spp.
Est. Larger black and giant bamboo needed. Very useful for structural
Cacti, Wormwood, Jujube etc.
Fruits poisonous to pigs and poultry. To be used with care at settlements, as for oleander.
(Meliu uzerduruch)
(J. mimosifolia).
Marginal food use.
( Tamarindus indicu)
Also for mulch.
(Tumarix articulutu)
USEFUL NATIVE SPECIES (a restricted list)
(See also section on poultry)
Nectar, pollen, fodder, bark fibre.
(Bruchychiton gregorii)
Fodder, possible spice.
Leaves and pods edible stock food.
(Buuhiniu curronil’)
Small preserving fruit, grafts.
(Eremocitrus gluucu)
(Cunthiurn lutifolium)
Fruit and fodder, pou!try.
Fruit eaten by Aborigines.
(Capparis mitchelli,
C. ambonata)
Emu and pigeon food.
(Eremophilu longlfoliu)
FIG (iii)
(Ficus plutypodu)
Fruit and graft stock for cultivars.
Edible fruit, emu forage.
(Oweniu ucidulu)
A. Perennial
Globe artichoke, asparagus, sweet potato, (bioscorus), Mamoc (Milnihot),
Herbs: Chives, potherbs (sage, thyme, marjoram, mints)
Many perennial onions not tried as yet.
comfrey, beans.
B. Biennial
Parsley, fennel, like umbelliferous
spp. Some established. Celery.
C. Annual
Sweet corn, tomato, melons, borage, lettuce, chard, spinach, sprouts, cabbage, peas, beans.
D. Tubers and Roots
Potato, sweet potato, turnip, carrot, onion, maniac, jerusalem artichoke,
wapiti and yala.
oca. Also native
and Apologia
It is very pleasant to sit here, in cool and green Tasmania, nursing my tropical ulcers, and make
bright suggestions. My admiration for the men like Mike Last and Ken Hansen, who spend years
at their work in pretty awful conditions is unbounded.
As often as not, dedicated people are as much impeded by whites who are exploitive, or by
paper work, as by the task ahead. Young people who go to the centre see how necessary it is to
stick to the job for years before results appear.
My admiration for the intelligence and endurance of the Aboriginal people is also great. They
know many things we need to know, about meaning in life, and about their country’s ecology.
They will be successful again, despite the messes we have made for them.
I am very grateful to Charlie McMahon, and Mike Last for organizing the trip; to Charlie, Andrew Prior, Mike, Allen Jenkins, Kim Tjitaya, Ginger Wikilyiri, Willy, and John Kantawara for
data on plants, techniques, native species and for transport and assistance; and to Rosemary,
Wendy, Jane and Jill for hospitality and cups of tea.
It seems clear to me, even today, that the eventual inheritors of the arid regions will be (almost
solely) Aborigines: tha: we have a long-term outlook to take, and that Aboriginal people will
slowly become masters of their own lands in this area of Australia. We can impede or assist this
process, but not halt it. As a people, they are (when fit and well) active, intelligent, marvellously
adapted co their environment, quick to learn, and capable of every sort of craft and technical
task . We block them by demanding literacy in our terms, by denying their culture, and by continued racism.
Sadly, there is too much evidence of ill-health in adults and children, and too little a&ion. We
persist in erecting institutions to deal with what is basically a domestic situation. We lack
‘barefoot doctors’ and ‘barefoot gardeners’, especially the latter, who strike at causes rather than
effects. Millions are wasted on sophisticated buildings which don’t work and give nothing to
thoughtful design. White employees, chosen by the government, are at times outright racists, ‘in
it for the money’. A cynic would say that we intend to perpetuate the misery af a people, in order
to sustain the “Aboriginal industry”. Like Dr Duguid, I feel very angry and betrayed by mv own
race, in their lack of action, good-will, and involvement, and by the attitudes of some public
The world will judge white Australia in the light of results, not intentions. Good intentions are
not enough. We must listen to the Aborigine, and by so doing will gain much ourselves, or take
the path of the Rhodesians and South Africans. The contrast between the non-productive, Pine
Gap military expenditure and the misery of people around it is glaring. It was the same in Iran,
and thp turmoil there reflects the effects of senseless repression and t e maintenance of ‘haves
and have-riots’.
Paulsen” greatly reinforces the thesis of Perrnacufture One, where we called attention to the
“nutrient pump” role of trees. Both leaves and roots trap minerals from air and weathered stone,
and the leaves recycle to topsoil. Prosopis cineria, he says, penetrate to 30 m, Acacia tortilis
spreads a root net 40-50 m, so that planting relatively few of these efficient root nets ensures a
large safety web under gardens.
In drier regions, this same author recommends A. albida, a unique species which is deciduous
in the wet season, and so does not shade crops when rain falls, but protects from clear sunny
skies. He also has praise for “zero tillage farming” in tropics by way of branch mulch from Prosopis, Acacia, and Ailanthus excelsa used as hedgerow, windbreak, and fodder crop for sheep.
Farmers in Rajasthan (India) “maintain as many as 40 Prosopis cineraria per hectare, and the
nutrients are detoured through livestock as an ideal way of using branch mulch.”
Paulsen illustrates how cotton grows under shea butter trees, while Van der Muelen recommends lab-lab (Dolichos) beans under Bobassus palm. Frank Martin and Ruth Roberte of the
Mayaguez Institute of Tropical Agriculture (Puerto Rico) have printed yet another of their excellent guides to survival and subsistence in the tropics. They also develop a plan fer an excellent
little round garden of essential crops, paying great attention to nutrition. Their books are basic
manuals of knowledge and skills, with reference to almost every aspect of tropical survival via
plant and animals. Figured here is the excellent Samaka Guide r’o Homesite Farming of the
It is also on the edge of the monsoon area where Fukuoka3 has developed his remarkable no-dig
system of growing, using only poultry as manurial sources (ducks are good pest controllers as weil
as recyclers). So it is not for lack of strategies that we do not have a stable tropical system evolved, just that we need people to put the strategies together and practice them.
As well as strategies, species and layouts, the essential design for wind, sun, and human comfort is also needed. In the humid tropics, the shadehouse of temperate zones may need dry mulch
to de-humidify air as it is drawn into the house, and there may need to be defences on both sides
of the house, as the sun traverses from tropic to tropic. Compensations are the vast range of
useful fruits and year-round production of crops.
Humid Tropics
It is in this climate that I, like many Europeans, do not thrive, and it is difficult to sort out the
riot of species and combinations. Here, almost all nutrients are mobile, and contained in the web
of life. The soil is fragile, easily leached, often very deeply rotted, and converts quickly to laterite
or erosion gullies if cleared. If ever tree crops had a place, this is it. Trees grow easily from seed
and cuttings, divisions and roots. Some trees are necessary at all times, even over crop. Paulsen”
asserts that “more than 75% of the soluble plant nutrients that are present in a certain area are
held within the biomass of the growing plant comunity” . These nutrients, he says, are not absorbed into the soil, as in temperate climates, but are caught in the web of roots and fungal symbionts
below the soil surface. Only ‘transitory’ fertility is released by clear-felling, then the leaching of
nutrients, and sterility of soil results.
Poulsen’s small pamphlet is a manual of condensed strategy for humid tropics. Converted into
diagrams or schematic figures, his and Van der Muelen’s lesson is clear. We must maintain high
biomass by mixed perennial/tree/crop
species in wet tropics.
Even in this climate, the winds that blow outside the rainy or monsoon seasons are very arid
and damaging, carrying the breath of the desert into gardens. Thus, the same windbreak and
forage strategies that apply to temperate and arid lands still apply. Mulch is as much, or more important, and has more manurial value, and animals of all sizes help keep the energy on the move
and are useful as harvesters of scattered nutrients.
The edge of the sea, wherever it is, has its peculiar difficulties. Across the great unmodifiable
plain of water, winds arrive at gale force, carrying salt and abrasive sand grains. The similari!ies
or high plateau country are obvious. Birds, plants, and other
to both desert and “altiplano”
species demonstrate that to us by their common occurrence in desert, coastal or montane regions.
Waders, choughs, currajongs, crows, starlings, certain berry plants and insects for which these
birds act as couriers, also show the same distribution, and some frogs share coast and high
plateau or coast and desert in common.
The defences of the permaculturist can therefore be gathered from all these environments, and
agaves, yuccas, palms and cacti will be as useful inland as on sea coasts, as will all tough, woolly,
thick-leaved, waxy, shiny and needle-leaved trees. All serve the same function-resistance
barks and fibrous-stemmed species also help to
wind, drying out, and salt or sand. “Gorky”
resist sand blast, as does self-mulching such as is found in tamarisk and casuarina. Fibrous palm
and yucca stems are notoriously tough. Plant-water reservoirs like the baobab and bottle trees,
the fleshy ice-plants, memembryantheum and saltbushes are helpful species, as are the New
Zealand coprosmas and the hardy coastal pines (Auricaria, Callifris). Certain other species also
show promise; the best guide is a visit to exposed gardens near the sea.
Where sea coasts benefit most is in the low incidence of snow and frost, the generally more
temperate climate, and a greater frequency of night dews and mists than the dry inland. The great
problem is salt-burn, when sea winds blow in dry periods, and deposit salt on leaves. As Lillian
Callow points out in Treesfor the Sea Coast (The Tree Society, 258 Mill Point Rd., South Perth,
W.A.) it is the salt death of ieaves rather than wind-pruning which accounts for the streamlined
shape of trees near the sea.
The really valuable front-line plants are those tall and graceful windbreaks that will stand
against the first onslaught. Examples are:
Coca nucifera
Coconut Palm
Washingtonia felifera
Cotton Palm
Phoenix canariensis
Canary Palm
Phoenix dactylus
Date Palm
Auracaria excelsa, A. heterophylla
Norfolk Island Pine
Macrocarpa Pine
Rottnest Island Pine
Oyster Bay Pine
Cedrus macrocarpa
Callitris robusta, C. tamarria
C. tasmanica
Behind these, lower bushy species, some very hardy, suppress the ground wind and form thickets
or hedges.
Acacia sophorea, A. cyciops, A. rnyoporum
Boobyalla and Acacia
B. marginata, B. serrata, B. attenuata, B.
Tamaris k
Cape thorn
Crested Wattle
Metrosideros (N.Z. Xmas tree)
And within the garden, lower hedges of
Chilean barberry
Pampas grass
Tamarix aphylla, T. parvifora
Ceratonia siliqua
L.vcium ,feroriWn7utn
Albizia Iophantha
Coprosma repens, C. retusa, C. kirkii
B. salvifolia, B. globosa
M. excelsa
Rosemarius officinalis
E. japonica
Berberis darwini-
In damp areas, hedgerows of coastal ti-tree (Melaleuca) may be pruned or unpruned, and provide
useful stakes and poles. Some of these species are: Melaleuca pubescens,M. hypericifolia, Lep-
tospermum laevigatum, M. flavescens.
As the first ranks decrease the wind, a complexity of more useful species follow, such as
Olea europa
Carob Bean
Ceratonia siliqua
Harpephyllum caffrum
Kaffir Plum
Bamboo species
Quinces, and the usual mix of stone fruits and citrus.
Nectarines, in particular, appreciate the mild winters. And, eventually, a complex of legumes and
fruit species in sheltered nooks, only a few hundred yards from the coast. On hillsides and in less
exposed areas, most needle-leaved pines (P. pinea, P. pineaster, P. radiata) thrive and provide the
acid mulch which offsets the alkilinity of desert and coastal gardens, or provides the mulch for
blueberry crops.
Both in deserts and on coasts it is advantageous to shelter early plantings with fences or trellis,
and to use these as frames for low climbers, many of which are also creeping species useful for
ground cover.
Kennedia prostrata is recommended as a good leguminous mulch by Ruth Geneff of Perth,
while Mesembryanthemum, Dolichos, Tecoma, and Tetrogonia species, amongst others, prevent
sand drift and keep soils from drying out. Many local fleshy or tough creepers can be found on
coasts. Lupins too, both annual and perennial varieties, thrive as coastal scrubs, and add to soil
fertility, binding loose sand as they do so. On rocky, exposed headlands, Quercus ilex (an
evergreen oak), Casuarinae equisetifolia and Callitris spp break the winds for later inland
In homestead and self-sufficiency design, even redundant structures and earthworks can be
designed to modify climatic extremes, to provide niches for important or preferred plants, and to
reduce active energy needs. Thus, aspectof slopes is critical in deciding between drought-resistant
and damp-tolerant species,Every building has these “aspects”, and by trellis construction, their
effects can be increased.
In new gardens, the great lack is wind shelter. Speciessuch as citrus, avocado, and macadamia
struggle to survive. Thus, the fastest possible assistancein these casesis to build trellis at near
right-angles to E., W. and N. walls. Such trellis has a multiple effect: it separatesfunctional space
into recreational, garden, or servicearea; prevents the flow of cold winds along walls (and acts as
a sun trap) and itself presents a basic structure for vine crop.
Trellis built on earth banks, tyre or stone walls, at rockery basesare even more effective as early
protection. They may curve out from the house corners, or simply break up a facade on a school
or large building, thus affording several places for benches, lawns and gardens.
Frequently, in institutions, large building surfaces converge to make wind tunnels. Trellis is
often the only answer, and arrowed entries baffle the wind further, Similarly, roads of no real
thoroughfare value are mostly designed as clear wind tunnels. Large boulders, plants and trellis
convert them to sheltered and sinuous access,and block dust, cold and noise as a side effect. This
is true of all driveways, service roads, blind entries and minor trafficways.
Horizontal trellis has severa$uses:
to shade windows from full summer sun;
G+ and to create overhead vine trellis to shelter tender crop in desert or extreme summer climates;
* to increase the solar fadiation on crop.
The refreshing coolness of a shadehousein the hot Australian summer has to be experiencedto be
believed. Even tiny pools, a few ferns, and a spray or drip of water increasesthe effect, both
physically (by evaporation) and psychologically. Air in such places has a different quality, an
aliveness normally missing from the languid air of still areas.
Trellis can always be backed up by permanent windbreak, and as this grows, trees can evolve
with their shelter growing to protect them. Additive features are the reflection or radiation from
walls and ponds; some of these are figured, but even so we rarely seea glasshouseconstructed
with a reflective pond to the N., or a solar pond as heater.
By just rounding a corner, the climate alters from one suited to the soft herbs such as celery,
parsley, chives (and strawberries) to a dry, hot site suited to the aromatic herbs, and producing
many more oils.
Man lives in a built environment, in all climates. His shelters are at the core of the zonation
system of permaculture, and whether he builds for himself or his livestock, it is essential that the
new buildings are so constructed as to supply their own heat and at least some food. It is in
buildings that most domestic energy is consumed, where we survive the extremesof heat and cold,
and where we may supervise and plan the evolution of our life-support systems.
It is self-evident that a diverse garden becomes a sourceof a variety of foods that do not need to
be cooked, so reducing the need for cooking fuels. The old emphasis on grains and pulses has
created a demand for fuel that countries, like India, can not afford. Nuts, fruits, greens, and
many root crops need no cooking, and are of equal or superior food value. The homely strategies
of cooking in one pot food that needsonly reheating, and of cooking for a larger community are
also important for fuel conservation.
While the greatest waste of energy is in irresponsible industries like those which produce
packaging, newspapers etc. and gas-guzzling motor vehicles, the householder should aim to
achieve the least energy use for his own sake, and at the sametime attack the rationale of energywasting ai the industrial level.
One can do no better than to read (or reread) Kern’* for inspiration on passiveclimate control
in housing, but, as he points out, locally developed systems are evolving that suit specific
climates, and many architects are (or should be) aware of the cheapnessand benefits of structural
control of heat and cold (though, as yet, I see no evidence of this in Tasmania).
People will spend enormous sums on house materials, land, and p!ants, often without consulting the (cheap) design books that would savethem much greater sums in future maintenance
and upkeep, And many housesare already built, or being built, without any thought of fuiure oil
shortages and present rising fuel costs. For this reason I have included data on the late adaptations thai can be made to established housing, as wcil as some strategies for future buildings.
The whole thrust of reactive house design is to reduce or eliminate the need for external energy
input for climate control. Becausethe sun heat is regulated and stored in the heat massesof
floors, walls and water tanks, and draughts are excluded, then the very slight heat yield from
body warmth, cooking, and perhaps a small pot-bellied stove is all that is needed to keep the air
space warm.
What can be added to the architectural designs are biological aids, as turf roofs, wall and roof
creepers for external insulation, glasshousesand shadehousesfor food production and climate
modification, and thus a better integration of the house and the external environment. But, to
start with, all people building or buying houses need to know the basic principles of the reactive
house (Fig. 6.1). An essential book for all Australians is that of Deborah White” and the
Melbourne team who worked on this and other energy problems, For other designs see CoEvolution Quarterly, Smmmer ‘78 and subsequent issues.
The essentiaisof a reactive house are:
5 it is sheltered from cold winds, hence needs designed windbreak planting (see Fig. 2.5);
0 it is oriented on an east-west axis, facing the sun. Thus, an attached glasshouseis feasible;
0 there are no windows, or very small fixed windows in the E. and W. walls. These walls are
then available for external vine crop insulation, trellis, or shrubbery;
* there are few windows and doors in the S. wall, and thus shadehouseattachment is facilitated
(see Figs. 6.1 and 6.2);
@ the whole house and every opening is very well sealed for draughts. Only essential vents (very
small) in toilet and bathroom need to be open at all times;
* in areas with hot summers the N. aspect is shaded by deciduous trees or vine crop. These are
omitted in cooler areas;
careful draught-proofing and reduced ventilation (block all old ventilators);
insulation of ceilings. Vines or trellis along E. and W. walls; and
e adding heat mass as concrete slabs, tanks and brick or stonework within the glasshouseor insulated warm rooms.
The basic references for attached glasshousedesign are Fisher and Yanda” and McCullagh“. An
attached glasshousehas the following essential features:
it may be oriented to within 60” of due N. (towards open mid sky rather than N.);
E. and W. walls should be insulated, and of solid construction;
base should be insulated, especially around foundations;
wooden frames to be used to prevent heat escape(metal frames lose heat too quickly);
0 single glass panels are the most durable and efficient glazing;
if a pit is dug below grade as the base, less heat is lost to the outside ground;
a very well-sealed top vent is essential;
water in small containers is the best heat store; pools help, and thesemay be placed below benhcs;
the glass to be at about 45’ to the ground for greatest efficiency; and
plain white paint to S. walls reflects heat efficiently.
If it is necessaryto vent heat in winter, then more heat storage needsto be added to capture the
excessheat, so water-filled containers are perhaps the most simple way to do this.
Fig. 6.2 diagrams how the system works. In summer when the house is too hot, open V.l at the
top of the glasshouse: air escapes, drawing in cool air from V.4, over the damp mulch and
through the vine-covered and ferny shadehouse,where a fine spray or drip of water on the mulch
keeps the air cool. In winter close V.4 and V.l, open V.2 and V.3, so that by day warm air from
the glasshouse circulates in the insulated rooms. Close at evening, trapping warm air. Both
shadehouse(for small fruit and brassicas)and glasshouses(for spicesand tropicals) yield food for
the family while cutting down on fuel costs. So, we eat more cheaply and better, and live more
comfortably by installing these passive energy systems.
Fisher and Yanda34 deal with at least part of this system-the glasshouse, but all [hose who
have a shadehouse can testify to its beneficial effeci in the Australian su
buildings, as in a school designed with Sweetnam and Godfrey (Vie.) by t
shade area allows cool air to be drawn into all courtyard buildings, and gives a refuge for teachers
and children in extreme summer heat. Even the dripping of water helps, as does the sight of ferns
in a droughted landscape.
Water tanks, often regarded as so outre and old-fashioned that a street in Perth (W.A.) took
up a petition to have the tank of a new (ex-farmer) resident removed as “unsightly”,
can be vine
covered in the shadehouse as a cool air/water block. (T’ne snooty residents didn’t win-the
farmer still has his tank, and they have water restrictions and salted soil.)
In really cool climates, irellis at right-angles to the walls decreases cool wind and forms warm
air pockets to the N., and by arranging hot-water usage to the N. side of the house, a double
benefit is arrived at:
1 solar ponds can be filled either outside or inside the glasshouse for hot water provision; and
heated water from sinks, showers, and baths can be released into a cooling-off tank inside the
glasshouse (see Fig. 6.14).
Structures breasting the wind should be like a vessel breasting the sea, either “easy” in entry
like a sharp-bowed boat, or permeable, like a raft, or both. Thus Figs. 4.5 and 4.6 suggest a
‘hJ’-shaped suntrap, curved and permeable back to the cold winds, and facing N. The figure
shows “even” wings on the ‘U’ forms, and a due N orientation. This may not be the best shape
or orientation for every site, for instance, if a local site features salty and strong easterlies (such as
howl about my house and garden as I write) then the ‘U’ should be higher and longer to the E.
than to the W. If mornings are sunny and Nzlear,and evenings cloudy, or the sun sets early behind
a western hill, the ‘U’ should be swung towards the NE. to gain ost sun. On very hostile, dry,
windy, shoreline, or cold sites, a whole series of interlinked sun traps may the only sensible way to
Note that in wind-protection ‘nets’ (see Fig. 4.6) the corner junctions
(as on the left) give
‘squarer’ fields than do centre junctions, as on the right. Similarly, sun screens may be curved and
tapered to admit low and early light, based on the known path of the sun.
While working in the icy and windswept plains of highland Tasmania In t e 1960’s I had the job
of stripping trout eggs in midwinter snow, and of transferring fish to less densely stocked and
therefore more productive waters. By chance, roadmenders raised an earth bank about 1.8 m high
behind our frigid cabin, and thereby made a dramatic change in climate. By insulating us from
the winds to the S. and by trapping sun heat to the N. our hut was made much more comfortable.
Larger bushes eventually grew on the spoil heap than on the plain, and this led me to evolve the
idea of an earth-house for bleak, cold, windswept and hostile areas. The design for this follows,
and in the opinion of Ken Yeomans and other expert earth-workers, the house is both practical
and cheap to make, even as a shelter for animals or a storage shed.
The developed earth-house has all the insulation factors of vegetation and earth, plus a moated
water supply, indoor wells for waste disposal and water supply, frost-clear roof as an indoor
glasshouse,and the whole structure would cost less than $l,OOO.oOto construct, plus floor slab
and roof trusses (Figs. 6.5-6.7).
The Pioneer Austi-alian dairy (Fig. 6.8) is, as everyone who has inherited one can attest, a very
cool., below-ground storage and fire refuge. Desert dwellings need be of similar “underground”
There are varying degreesof integration of house and Gtant-from the totally grown house to
vine-covered or sod-roofed conventional structures.
The Sun-Herald of June 18th, 1978, reproduces a photograph ctf a “biostructure” designed in
Stuttgart, Germany, by Rudolf Doernach, which has a fairly conventional light steel and timber
frame. This frame is grown over with evergreen, waxy-leaved clim, jing plants (severalspeciesof
ivy, geranium, and coastal climbers suit this description), and the r tsult is said to be warm, cosy
and weatherproof even in the cold European winter. The occupant! are said to benefit from the
generally healthier surroundings. Only doors and windows need to be kept clear of vine, and if
the structure is designed to take creepers, trimming is unnecessary.The building figured is igloolike in form.
The same article figures a building which is basically a coralline deposit, using an electrolyte
such as the sea or fresh water to deposit chemicals in a free-form metal mesh of any shape-the
result is rather coralline-cave in appearance. (Ref: Prof. Wolf Hilbertz, Director, American Inst.
for Exp. Architecture, Faculty of Arch., Texas Uni., U.S.A.)
Here, plants are used as integral parts of the house structure. Fig. 6.9 was designed for a field
shelter for domestic animals, but would a!~ be a feasible tropical home. Only very light structural members are necessary. Fig. 6. i2 (a!tcr Dornach) has the further refine ent that a fully
enclosed and vented compost box provides baLkground heat. Materials dry-stored in autumn,
and “charged” at 3 week intervals in a box of this type would “burn” at about iSO- “C until
composted, rather like a slow fire. Again, placement in a glasshouseor animal shelter is of use.
The loss of warmth and of cool air, in buildings is most affected by the winds which pass along
the walls. Still air or water is the best insulation, and in plants this is the air trapped in a tangle of
stems and roots, or the shelter given by screensand shrubberies (see Fig. 6.15).
Climbers, screens,dense shrubberies and windbreaks should all aim to reduce air-flow around
buildings, thus increasing the usefulnessof insulation. Holgar Wishart (N.S. W. I .T., in conversation) notes that wind passing over and around solar heatersis the main causeof their inefficiency.
For this reason they should be encasedinside the roof of the building, lying on the roof insulation
and protected by a glass skylight about 50 mm above them, rather than exposed to the winds.
Stephen Lesiuk (in conversation, May ‘78) measuredthe gain or loss of heat over bare and vinecovered brick walls in spring, to obtain data on the effects of vines on heat loss and gain. His findings are as yet to be published, but briefly, ivy on brick walls suppressedthe entry of about 70%
of summer heat excess,and prevented the escapeof about 30% of heat from the house at night.
Dozens of brick-cavity buildings could benefit from this simple biological insulation.
1 Sound Walls
One of the annoying (and damaging) facts of roadside and industrial living is noise. While it
takes a lot of forest to blanket out some noise, the insulation that we use for walls, and thermal
efficiency, helps greatly with noise control, as do massivestone or earthbrick walls. I becameinterested in the problem in relation to hospitals and old peoples’ homes where rest is essential, and
in one-storey buildings landscape design can certainly help, especially if this factor is noted early
in planning, and spaceis made available to insulate for sound. (It takes 100m of forest to cut out
6-7 decibels of sound.)
Sound comes in many wavelengths, and the lowest and highest sounds (long and .+ort wave)
need different approaches. Insulation, perforated surfaces, double glazing, “draught-proofing”
(all the features that prevent cold from entering and le:.!%~2)impede high-frequency noise. Lowfrequency sound wavesbehave more like water or waves, 3iid can “flow over” barriers.. Both can
be reflected by dished or baffled systems,or absorbed in insulating material (causing a very small
heat increase).
Earthworks, vegetation, or insulation all help, and the design of the highways, where earth
spoil is too often neatly levelled out, so permitting noise to flow uninterrupted. Well-placed embankments of earthed-over tyres plus good house insulation, as per Section 6.1 is the answer to intolerable noise levels.
2 The Sod Roof
Sod roofs may be newly constructed, or rolled over strong existing structures, using a plastic
film stapled below as a moisture barrier. Chimneys etc. are flashed as usual. The metal roll-under
carries water to the spout, while leavesdrop off. The slotted angle or log (indispensible on steep
roofs) holds the sod from slipping.
Trials of smaller roofs on shedsand animal housesare probably the best way to get the technique (and species)right, and as the weight of winter sod roof is great, loads must be carefully
I can always bring a nervous titter from an Australian audience by suggesting that they shift
their lawn onto their roof. But I am being fairly serious, as sod roofs are great active insulators,
and any strong (or strengthened) roof would take sod, either as ready-rolled lawn in humid areas,
succulents in dry areas, and with daisies, bulbs, herbs and furbelows to taste elsewhere. The sod
root mass effectively insulates; the roof never needspainting, and can be repaired easily if damaged by adding a little soil and seed, If Norwegian models are anything to go by, it should last for
200 or more years, probably longer than the house itself (Williamsg). For weak existing roofs,
especially those of zinc or aluminium cladding sheet, ivy over the roof servesas well, providing
the guttering is adapted as shown (Fig. 6.16).
Evapo-transpiration, plus judicious watering keeps the summer heat out, and air and foliage,
the winter cold at bay. Sod roofs act, in fact, like ivy on walls. Neither increase fire risk to the
Fire Mandalas 3
(Figs. 6.17-6.19)
Fire may be trying to get in (to a house or town) or out (from a public fireplace). The orientation doesn’t much matter, what matters is that the structures and vegetation are integrated and
designed to block fire. A fireproof array of plants is diagrammed below. All are ‘sappy’ perennials that will not burn, unlesspermeated by grasses.All are green in midsummer. Sunflower are
also included (an annual). Most annual gardens resist fire, as does damp mulch.
If such systemsare fenced, and poultry stocked after midsummer, their scratching and browsing greatly decreasethe fire risk represented by grasses;or if the systemis closely planted and attended to, the chance of fire damaging any plants or structures behind such a barrier are slight.
Windows 4
Colin James(in conversation, Oct. ‘78) has pointed out to me that the best skylight is, in fact, a
clear fibre-glass pool or shallow aquarium, as the water insulates, and gathers light from the
horizon. Such pools may need to have 4% formalin added to keep them clear, or elsethey need to
be cleaned regularly to remove fish faeces and plant residue.
No such nuisance deposits occur in wall aquariums, however, and these ‘windows’ can be
stocked with plants and fish, and shaded to prevent algal growth. The fibre-glass tanks of the
New Alchemists would serveas windows in normal rooms. As well as preventing heat loss they
produce food, recycle nutrients and are of great interest to the inhabitants. What better view than
the inside of an aquarium?
Kern illustrates how windows may be better used as vents and air scoops, and also notes that
vents may be built without opening windows at all, so that long horizontal, roof, floor, and wall
vents can be of solid construction and functional design, while glass in windows remains fixed
and therefore more easily draught-proofed.
Back to the Cave 5
The steady state and cool conditions of caves, brick tanks, walls, fire refuges and root cellars
offer great advantage in the storage, preservation and care of a great variety of goods.
Allis Chalmers (W. T. 1978)usescavesto store spare tractor parts becauseof lack of dust and a
dry atmosphere. Cool cavesgreatly prolong the life of citrus, root crop and leaf crop in store, and
are cool air sourcesin summer. Old mines, wells, and constructed cavesbelow floors have all of
these uses.
Also, a cavenear the house has value as a family refuge in catatastrophic wind, fire, war or heat
wave. Such structures may be dug into banks; underfloor cellars entered from floor traps or outside cellar doors, or above-ground structures of ribbed steel or pipes earthed over for protection.
Radiation from fire is prevented by ‘T’ shapes or a “Dogleg” in the entry of shelters.
Caves under floor are a part of climate control systems, maintaining a constant low
temperature (as in Kerr-P) or forming a reservoir to drain cold air off windows at night. Cavesor
earth shelters outside the house form the essential fire refuge for those who live in areas of high
wildfire danger.
Sewage and Other Filthy Matters 6
“Scruple not to enrich the dried up soil with dung, and scatter filthy asheson fields that are
It is in the production of dung and ashes that soil nutrients are lost, consequently they are
sacred to agriculture in the philosophy of the Chinese. There is a sensible balance between so
much nicety that nothing gets done, and common hygiene. Ironically, most health inspectors I
know are awfully concerned with germs, but not at all with sprays and industrial residues. Such is
There is no sane technological solution to sewage waste; it is the province of the biologist.
Canberra is learning that lesson at great cost: in trying to sterilize sewage by using complex
technology they end up with an expensive and dangerous product-chemicalized water.
Maryborough (Vie.) has taken steps towards sanity in sanita.tion, using water and soil to deal with
the sewage outfall of some 8,000 people (flow about 1,300,OOOl/day). Here, the writer cooperated with P. A. Yeomans in designing ‘wildlife’ and biologically-oriented sewagelagoons,
which feed hundreds of wildfowl, and then discharge to keylined fields, deep-chiselledas absorption filters, thus removing the taint of black-water residuesand excessnitrates from the run-off.
All sensible town sewage treatment from flush toilets must follow the same path-first to
primary mechanical breakdown and the removal of solid wastes; second to methane, third to a
trickle filter; from there to lagoons and finally to soil absorption before being turned back to the
Rather than attempt a speciesdesign for aquaculture, I have concentrated here on both broad
and detailed construction designs,so that people might extract from thesefor their own sites, and
(hopefully) public authorities may reform their simplistic approach to impoundments by the
modifications suggestedin figs. 7.7, 7.8 & 7.9.
My own inclination is to attempt a ‘wild’ water polyculture, and observethe result. The essential elements (selected for local climate) are:
mussels in pond bottom mud;
0 eels (if naturally present) in tyre refuges;
* a browsing fish for algae;
0 a predator fish screenedoff (as per Fig. 7.12);
0 crustaceansas shrimp, crabs, marron or other useful speciesin brush pile refuges;
0 insect attractants as flowering verge plants (Buddleia, ti-tree, herbs), lights over pond at night,
and hide or meat baits over water for flies;
9 small local fish (pygmy perch, galaxids, minnows) for mosquito control;
0 shallow edge plants of tall rush or wild rice as frog and bird refuges;
0 lawn edge for grazers such as geeseand swan;
* islands for breeding waterfowl and protection from foxes;
@ nestboxes for wildfowl;
0 some raft culture of plants;
0 floating aquatics such as water chestnut (Trap&;
0 edible root species, such as the water lilies, lotus, or water chestnut (Eleoch~rLs)as underwater tyre plantings;
* stabilization of banks by steppedlog, tyre or hand-cut planted ledges,using bamboo, pampas
or such shallow matted-root species;
seepageplanting of fruit or nut tree species(cherry, walnut);
local plantings of watercress, mint; and
trials of a variety of spawning ‘bottom’ materials.
Observation of this sort of polyculture will reveal management problems and solutions, enabling
the owner to strengthen successfultechniques and species.Thus this section has more illustrative
than documented material. The field of complex aquaculture, including mariculture, awaits local
trials, which we at Tagari hope to implement in the near future.
The natural cleansing processesfor water are suggestedin Fig. 7.11, where various biological
filter systems are used for recycling water from still ponds, or cleansing water from polluted
For dam and channel construction, one can do no better than to read YeomaW, who diagrams
and explains the construction of large farm barrage, contour, and storage dams. These are,
however, not specifically designed for any but water storage and reticulation in the Keyline
system, and several additional features can be added for polyculture considerations.
Combined, Keyline and permaculture would seemto have achieved a rare conscious integration
in water and soil treatment plus integrated biological planning. Such combinations give pleasure
on small-holdings of from l-15 acres, but would ensure stability for any country which applied
them on a national scale. In Australia, the most humble dwelling must be ‘approved’, but men
can use thousands of acres in a delinquent manner, subject to no higher authority than their own
stunted intellect, or the profit motive.
Some modifications to very large storage waters are given here (Fig. 7.3) but the main modifiers
to farm dams are these:
island refuges for breeding waterfowl;
. shallow shelves for waterfowl forage plants, at the rear and edgesof large dams;
deep sump refuges for fish in areas where the dam is lessthan 10 feet deep and where summer
temperatures are high;
peninsula structures, with or without a moat, for house fire-protection in fire-critical areas;
south banks to site plants, houses, glasshouses(to gain reflected heat benefits in winter and at
low sun angles).
Some of these features are illustrated in Figs. 7.3 and 7.13.
1 Nomenclature of Ponds and Lakes
Some nomenclature of man-made waterworks is necessary to understand the figures and
systems outlined. I have in part followed Chakroff16 and Yeoman9 here. Briefly the names of
larger impoundments are:
Barrage ponds: are across stream courses, filled directly by the stream, or by valley run-off.
(Figs. 7.1 & 7.2)
Diversion ponds: re filled by a diversion channel, which leads water from stream or run-off
area such as a bare, rocky slope. (Water is diverted from its normal course.)
Ring Dams: (or “Turkey nests” in Australia) are flatland storagesabove grade. Water must be
pumped into these, and they form one of a series of:
Storage ponds: steady level ponds formed as barrages, which take water from upstream barrages, and lead it into contour channels or irrigation banks. These are known as penstocks in
hydro-electric schemes.
11J rttnning upslope to impound
Contotrr dams: waP10-,.,ade along a contour, with wing ba-kwater. The contour may be concave or convex on the downhill side. (Fig. 7.4)
AI1 of the above, (with the exception of penstocks) are normally subject to fluctuating levels as
water is used up below them.
Water storages for growing fish and plants, are, in the main, very differently designed structures than are those (now very plentiful) for stock watering or irrigation alone. For instance,
many small ponds of from 100 m* to 500 m* (Iessthan 1%acre) are better suited to fish culture
than very large storages of 400 m* (1 acre) or more. Graded bottoms of from 75 cm to 2 m depth
suit many fish, while storage ponds for water need to be 3-6 m deep to be worthwhile on large
In deserts, even tiny rockholes may be critical for the survival of quail chicks and desert
animals, (see Fig. 5.14) while relatively vast grazing shallows are needed by swan flocks in
estuaries, and so on. Designersfrequently overlook the biological importance of small structures,
some of which are figured here as filter channels, quail ponds, or solar ponds, and engineersseem
little concerned with subsurface dams and shoreline or perched impoundments critical to the survival of fish. Consequently we have vast and expensivelakes for power generation, of very poor
biological productivity.
Overflows are piped or boxed screensto keep fish ponds at constant level. (Fig. 7.15)
Spillways are channels that lead floodwater out of dams to streamsor irrigation ditches. (Fig.
Irrigation channels are banked drains with little or no slope, fitted with water-gates, or siphon-
ing, or pumped to fields. They lie below water storages of all types,-or lead directly off streams
as diversion channels.
Steering banks are very low earth banks, sometimes only a few inches high, which are made
directly downhill from irrigation channels, or border a field, so that irrigation water forms a
sheet on the land. (Fig. 7.14)
Bunds are level banks on flat or graded, or walled land, such as rice paddies, whrch hold bdt~~
for a while on crops needing saturated or very wet soils.
Perchedponds are small settling, filter, or frog ponds perched abobe larger storages. (I+I~ 1 7)
Subsurface ponds are walls under water at full storage, but which cut off and preserve shalt: ~1
estuarine water in draw-down of large impoundments (Figs. 7.8 and 7.9).
Earth tanks for stockwater, are excavated below surface level. (Fig 7 6)
In biological terms, we can also add the fish ponds:
Brood ponds (for adult breeders). Spawning ponds, and Nursery ponds.
Solar ponds are used specifically to produce heat. (Fig. 7.10)
Dew ponds are constructed to catch night moisture.
A particular problem in many granitic, sandy, or shaly sites is the “dry” dam, which leaks
through the base and walls. Such failures were ‘“cured” in the old days by a variety of means,
ranging from “bumping”
the walls with from l-3 plugs of gelignite when the dam filled after
heavy rain, using lime and gypsum to seal cracks, and feeding cattle or sheep in the dry pond with
bales of hay. The latter solution came very close to the modern Russian development of gley
(pronounced ‘glee). Gley is used in sandy, gravelly, stony or fissured soils where water will not lie.
To gley a pond (after Chakroff’“):
1. Clear pond bottom of all debris and rocks.
2. Lay fresh cow or pig manure, green lawn or lucerne clippings evenly at 75-100 mm deep.
3. Cover with paper, cardboard, plastic, old carpet, hay, leaves, grass etc. completely.
4. Put weight layer of sand, soil, clay over.
5. Wait 2-3 weeks for ferment in base layers, and fill pond.
I a
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John Wood, writing in Radical Technology (Eds. G. Boyle & P. Harper, Penguin, 1976)makes
useful reference to pond culture, much neglectedby most of us in Australia. Becauseof the efficiency of surface and midwater phytoplankton and diatoms at the mud surface, nutrients and
sunlight produce high yields in shallow-water systems (to 4.5 m in clear water, lessin turbulent
systems). Wood estimated yields of 3000 kg of fish, 1000 kg of crayfish (yabbies), 400 kg
‘mussels’ and the eggsand progeny of 200 ducks from 1 ha of pond. Mussel and duck manure are
sufficient nutrient, and fish are reared on a “put and take” basis.
These yields (where achieved) are orders greater than most land yields of animal protein, but
Woods makes little mention of plant yields-water chestnut as a surface crop, with floating hairroots, and sweet rush (Acorns) or wild rice (Zizania) as edgespecies.Nor should we overlook the
beneficial effects of ponds on nearby pecan, walnut and other “river-flat” trees,and the seepage
areas, used to grow celery, watercress,and other edible speciessuch as the mints, in abundance.
Sewagewater also vastly increasesinsect life, and so the productivity of wildfowl and fish, and
yields really depend on rate of manurial turnover in the system. Sewageponds are themselves
ideal sites for breeding stock destined for transfer to clearwater ponds before harvest.
Following on the construction of a pond, a basic provision is to lime the areabefore filling, and
Chakroff16 recommends:
Let stand 2 weeks
1,140 kg/ha
Ground limestone
fill pond
Agricultural limestone
Hydrated limestone, or
114 kg/ha
200 kg/ha
The best pH for gardensis 5.5-6.0, but for ponds 6.5-9.0 is ideal, hencelime usually needsto be
added. Unlike drinking ponds, fish ponds are best if soupy green, so that a white (Secchi) disc
disappearsat 20-40 cm below the surface. This is achievedby manuring either with human or pig
sewage,or by heavily stocking with ducks.
Coa.stallagoons, however, frequently have a natural pH of between 9.0-l 1.0, as iime is present in sands, and care should be taken to test before adding lime. Green plants, compost, loam,
ploughing in a green crop, feeding grain mashesto fish, etc. all lift pond productivity. Old ponds
are best, and often have a deep mulch on the floor, but livestock pens such as pig or cow yards
near fish ponds hcip with manurial input.
The ideal layout for ponds is diagrammed in Fig. 7.22, but in practice the amateur can buy
fingerling (nursery) stock and proceed from there, or, preferably manage (by continuous
harvesting) waters where pond fish breed in shallows or brush piles.
Many carp, tilapia, blackfish, perch, and bream will breed in ponds (local advice on speciesis
best) and if kept harvestedand “thinned” will produce size fish. This thinning of stock may be
achieved by the agency of other fish.
With the foregoing in mind, carefully regulated, uncrowded, well-aerated, ideal temperature
systems,with good light penetration and ample cover, gaining nutrients and food from surroundings, and containing many speciesof various use to man, give the highest yields, when wellmanaged and intensively cropped. The most efficient systemsrequire high levels of technical
knowledge, skill and time, but most water systemscan produce excellent catch-as-catch-canfood.
Thus, yield may be improved by creating the conditions of the water for greater yield. Highly
intensive systemsmay include draining, liming, and resting somewaters. Speciesable to exist low
in the food chain can more directly utilize natural production or manured areasthan predaceous
species.Dry-land cropping as part of the fish crop cycle is commonly used to increasetotal yield,
and to prevent diseasetransmission.
Water is a three-dimensional system, or four if flow (duration) is taken into account. By using
all dimensions, aquaculture can benefit, so that many speciesor special structures (islands, rafts,
emergent weed) are needed to use all resources.
Where capital for tanks, ponds, dams or managed streamsis available, yields may be increased
by technological aids to quite phenomenal levels, even if recycledwater is necessaryto make cur124
rent flow possible. Alternative technology may be brought into play (wind pumps, solar heaters)
to make pond culture more cheaply productive, and if sound ecological principles are adhered to,
costs can be reduced by thoughtful management. High density stocking requires paddle pumps
for oxygenation.
The run-off from even a modest barn roof (20 x 8 m) in a 1 m rainfall area such as Tasmania
can yield 1,600,000litres of water per annum, and ‘waste’ heat or manure production can be used
to great advantage in such ponds. Very intensive systemscall for an enclosedglasshousesituation
in cool climates.
Edge and surface animals and plants (duck, wild rice) can be added to pond yield as the
hedgerow adds to field yield. Similarly, drained ponds may yield rich mud fertiliser for gardens,
particularly if freshwater mussels, and quick-growing plants are used to fix nitrogen in ponds.
The land-pond interchange is part of polycultural managementin Asia, but is little explored in
temperate zones, where marine fish were once cheap, plentiful, and unpolluted. This is no longer
the case,and freshwater culture has a deservedlybright future where overfished and polluted sea
speciesare failing to maintain their yields to man.
To briefly summarize the conditions for an effective pond culture, progressing towards more
intensive production:
@ small impoundments of 500 - 1000 m2 (1/8-l/4 acre);
* depth of 2-5 m (7-16 feet);
* floor graded as slope to outlet;
a mixture of fish, crayfish, plants, molluscs, waterfowl, edgeplants, and land animals penned
* insect foods attracted by plants, lights, baits, colours or scents;
@ adequate refuges as shallows, pipes, brush piles, logs, deeps;
e predator protection as nets or fences;
@ liming and manuring as needed to pH 6.5 or higher;
0 manure or waste foods added as available;
0 water paddled, sprayedor stirred, or filtered and recycled as food input and stocking rates increase(to keep up the oxygen level);
@ special invertebrate food ponds nearby (to breed worms, insect larvae, frogs, etc. for fish
0 special crops grown for fish food (mainly cereal or tree crop); and
@ enclosure of pond in glasshousesas a final intensive ploy (seethe work of the New Alchemists
in Radical Technology, Boyle & Harper (eds), Penguin, Hammondsworth, 1976).
5 Rmwf3rnb
-----------I kh
-- ---,
AN authors concur that lessdiseaseand greater total productivity are a feature of polyculture,
and that monoculture in ponds, as on land is lessstable and more energy-consuming.Thus, the
dilettante emphasis on trout or salmon fisheries for sport only at this stage (Tasmania) has
resulted in severalenergy-expensiveand foreseeableproblems:
0 large lakes and rivers overstockedand underfished, with dwarfed or stunted fish and low turnover. Some need to be opened to commercial fishery;
no real assistanceto still-water pond culture on farms- no real data or speciesavailable;
heavy over-regulation of fish farms and waters, so that we employ many more ‘policemen’
than biologists (the public is the enemy, as usual);
no real assistancefor habitat improvement for any but trout species;
restrictions on the import of useful, non-sporting species;
no commercial inland fishing except for eel (which is a trout predator!)
introduction of trout into national parks and isolated waters (would pigs be allowed to run in
botanic gardens, or hunters licensedtn stick pigs in public parks?). Thus, no real protection of
native fish habitat;
0 no researchinto useful plant species,new pond fish species,or managementof estuariesfor
their fish populations;
I the concept of a minimum size limit as a dogma-hence poor fish stocks.
And so on. This (as in cotton monoculture) produces all the evils of biological and social disruption, the definition of “pests” asspecieswhich eat trout, and the creation of a favoured group of
sportsmen, while millions of gallons of water and tons of protein are denied to everyman, and
millions of fish die of old age.
It is now seriously proposed, by people like Prof. Bloom, of the University of Tasmania, that
certain shallow estuariesshould be dammed for protein production, just above tide level in order
to prevent pollution by marine waters. Due to metal processing and wood pulp industries,
Tasmania has offshore levelsof zinc, cadmium, mercury and like dangerousheavy metals as high
as anywhere in the world, but then the coasts of all industrial nations are either overfished or
polluted, thus negating a natural source of fish protein by wastage of the resource.
Despite all these setbacks, amateur fishermen take, in total, about as much scale fish as commercial fishing boats; it remains for state governments to reform their ways, and for the rest of us
to dig ponds in casethey are too late in so doing.
The intergrade estuary or inlet to land is often over.Sulicorniu flats, weakly inundated by tides
twice daily. Swan, where present, graze these systemsat high tide, and domestic geesealso appreciate the forage of succulentsand s&grasses. As few, if any, fish occupy thesesalt flats, mosquitoes find multitudinous breeding grounds there, and it is more productive to vary the system
by pond and bank designs, as per Fig. 7.24, than to try to manage the unmodified system.
Data from Colin Sumner (Tas. Fisheries, in conversation) suggeststhat ponds of about 1.8 m
deep, with very gradual bank slopes(1 : 3 or so), allowing a foot of tide as flushing, and provided
with browsers such as periwinkles or Salinator shellfish, shrimp, and mullet to keep algae to
tolerable levels, would also provide excellent oyster culture conditions, with broodstock at midbank and spat caught on broken shell in trays, for transfer to nearby estuaries(at 40010air time exposure, 60% submerged). Geeseon range, and t&tree or coastal shrubs on embankments make a
more varied ecology, with manurial input to ponds.
Mullet speciesare also viable pond speciesif some food is available or cultured in ponds; crab,
octopus, seaweeds,and shrimp are other probable cultures.
“Water-based ecosystemsare as complex as those on land. The ecosystemapproach must be
applied there just as in terrestrial food production.”
SciencesCouncil of Canada, 1979.
As in any analysis of calorific versuseconomic policy, it is clear that offshore and intensive processfisheries, such as are still being developedby Japan, Russiaand the west for open seaspecies
and fishmeal are doomed in energy terms. Sedentary, shore-based,estuarine, inland, and intertidal or tidewater fisheries, now much depleted and neglected, will not only yield higher than
deepseafisheries, but can reduce or eliminate the main costsof transport, packaging, and storage
of products.
There are very few shellfish and inshore species,including such forms as oyster, crayfish, eel,
octopus, seagrasses,algae, shrimp, sand bivalves, and scalefish that are not susceptibleto rearing
or management in pond or barrage cultures, raft culture, and fenced or impounded tidal areas.
Yet most research, bureaucratic facilitation, capital input and human effort goes into the offshore multinational, non-sustainable long-range fisheries; fisheries which employ very few men,
allow little local industry, and waste enormous tonnages of fish and by-products.
Redirection of resourcesto inland, estuarine, and inshore systemsmust becomea policy priority if this cheap protein source is to be preserved. The implications for control of polluting industry are obvious. In practical terms, seareef structures developedfrom tyres, broken or faulty
earthenware, and local stone provide a substrate and shelter for larger forms of fish (eels, octopus, crayfish). Stone “fields”, or lines of stone (long developed in western Ireland) set out in
shallow water “catch” algae as seaweedponds, as does woven fencing. Manurial input stimulates
seagrassgrowth, hence estuarine waterfowl production, and a variable ecology that has the
highest productivity.
The essentialstructures that will reform the many millions of.hectares of invariable mud-flats
and intertidal sands available are:
0 reef walls of tyres, pipes, stone;
drift fencesto catch seagrassand direct fish;
rafts for rope suspensionof mollusc spat and algae, ring-rafts to rear fish in tideways (as in
Ireland, where salmon are reared to adulthood in seaways);
flow-governed tide pools to permit correct exposure for growing oysters;
fry traps that provide stock for inshore and Suficorniu pools (Fig. 7.24);
accessorypaddle-powered electric or mechanical systemsat points of restricted tide-flow;
evaporative pans for salt, chemical, and brine-shrimp production (the latter as fry food);
9 islands for marine wildfowl refuges and phosphate collection;
a deeps for fish refuges, provided with cover nets or refuges from cormorants;
0 manured sea-grassfields, wave-protected by low bunds, yielding seagrassand browsing fish;
0 sub-surface (permeable) walls to retard tide flow in scoured estuaries;and
* trials of substrate materials to catch new fry or algal forms.
The same advantages of slope, sun reflection from still-ponds, and a mixed ecology of
wildfowl, geese,fish, molluscs and algae apply to seawater or brackish ponds as they do to the
freshwater systemsdiscussedelsewhere.The greatestadvantage is a tide range of 1-9 m, such as is
found over most coasts, and therefore enables ‘free’ flushing and governable draining of ponds;
the filling of higher-level impoundments for later releaseto lower ponds; and a flow of open sea
species,fry, and algal forms as food.
Swan, geese,and some duck speciesprefer saltwater locations or Salicornia and Zostera fields,
while mullet species, eels and bream are all easily managed fish specieswith different food requirements, hencegiving a managementpotential as mixed-speciesstocks. Musselsand oystersattach to stone or still-pond Zostera, hold sand banks with byssal ‘roots’ and provide bream and
human food. Tagari has applied for a tidewater and Salicornia leaseholdto test out someof these
strategies, and will develop a research series of structures and impoundments should funds be
It is in the variation or complication of naturally invariant areas,long ago reduced to fairly barren plains by seaaction, that the greatest opportunity to increaseinshore fishery yields lie. More
importantly, the guano from seafowl, easily caught as liquid run-off from solid rafts or stony
islands, provides the essentiallocal phosphate and nitrogenous fertilizer for adjacent land crops.
Even large artificial platforms have proved commercially viable off southwest Africa, where
pelican and cormorant use these “islands” for roosting, and deposit tons of guano for fertilizer.
In more humid climates, rain takes the guano into solution, so that storagetanks or coveredsolar
evaporative pans need to be provided.
Sea-grassmulch and guano close the sea-land cycle of nutrients, and makes the growing of
crops near seashloresand waterwaysvery profitable. And yet, seafowl (especiallyseagullrookeries
near towns) are seldom, if ever, structured to be used as guano reserves,and in the wastesociety
their riches are lost to the sea, while guano is mined elsewhere.
In both hemispheres, burrowing and surface-nesting seabirds can also be ‘managed’ for eggs
and meat production, fine down, and manurial output. The muttonbird (puffinnus) industry of
Tasmania yields millions of birds annually; but under good management, the rookeries are fast
increasing. By-products of down make the best insulation for “doom&‘, beds, and evenrooms.
Like any fowl, muttonbirds can be cultivated, and rookeries establishedin new areas.The adults
will survive well in captivity, and their progeny return to new rookeries. Thus, any seasideproperty can have a rookery of these birds if located in the general range of the selectedspecies.
Similarly, sealrookeries can be developed (as on the Pribiloff Islands) to safely yield skins, guano
and protein foods.
It is known to all net (seine) fishermen that shallows off such rookeries are very productive of
seagrasses,hence fish such as pike, garfish, and whiting. The guano of sealsand seabirds, culled
from squid, rough fish and invertebrate krill, is the basis of the high manurial turnover in the inshore seapastures. Once removed, the sealsoften fail to return, or are senselesslyshot by gill-net
fishermen as “pests”, thus lowering the total yield of the sea. In the tropics, dugong and
manatee, turtle and crocodile have similar niches and management potential.
1 Tidal
Stone Traps
Where tides fall 1.2 m or more on rocky coasts,as in N.W. Tasmania, tide traps are made from
well-packed stone, so that rocky clefts or tidal flats are enclosedby a 90 cm wall. At high tide, the
small school fish (garfish, squid, mullet, perch) enter over the wall, stay to feed on algae in the
enclosedarea, or are baited by crushed mussels,and are trapped as the tide falls. A refuge pool
(or better, a roofed and slotted tank free from bird predators) holds the catch at low water. Late
night tides give the best catch, and we frequently visited thesetraps when young. An old gate or
door in the wall allows the whole systemto remain open when not in use. Such traps provide small
fish for stocking manured ponds, and are themselvesa substrate for oyster and mussel.
When tide-fall is too slight, or in lakes and lagoons, a lead fence plus a seriesof funnels guide
fish (eels, trout, perch) to enclosures. (As net systems, the&eare called fyke nets.) On dams, the
end enclosure can be under the house verandah, and fish kept there are always available. The
systemis widely usedin marine shallows both in the U.K. (Scotland) and Malaysia, and in deeper
water for tuna schools (Italy). Such traps can be made of brush, stone, wire, or fabric netting.
The final catching pens are roofed or completely enclosed to foil predators and jumping fish.
2 Seagrasses
- Zostera, Heterozostera and Posidonia
Various seagrassesor swan weeds grow in Australian estuaries. Some, on most open coasts,
have short broad leaves,some wiry and strong, some like hay, and some like peat, mixed with a
fluffy algae. AI1 are a public resource, excellent insulators, and very resistant to burning. Intelligent use of such resourcesoffers a safe way (safe, that is, from lung cancercausedby mineral
fibres) to insulate houses.In Victoria, at least, the material is on sale for roof and ceiling insulation, but it is available to any vigorous householder. In Adelaide, and in many areasZostera is a
‘nuisance’ on beachesand near boat ramps. Again, careful usageconverts a nuisance to a very
conservativeresource, long-lasting and safe.
The tougher material is almost immune to rot, and even under slabs would insulate from the
ground if fumed with creosote, soaked in a weak preservativesolution, or encasedin thin plastic
covering. This insulates buildings from ground cold, and preventsheat escapeto the earth, making concrete slabs a large heat-storage system.
The spring growth is used by water fowl as grazing, and there is a heavy summer seedproduction, useable as forage seedsor for flour,
While it is possible to document (by way of listing plant species)and to plan free-rangedesigns
for any animal species,I havechosen here to treat poultry as livestock. Here poultry is usedin the
widest sense,to include waterfowl, landfowl, pigeons, and even emu.
Perceptive readers, scanning the plant list (8.4) will notice that it is also a bee forage system,
and would evolve into a cattle forage situation over time. Many of thesespeciesalso withstand sea
winds, salted soils, and frosts, so that coastal and desert (inland) situations are suited.
It is true (in Australia at least) that coasts and deserts support, in their natural state, a great
variety of seed-eatingand berry-eating birds, from quail to emu, as well as heavy populations of
part-insectivorous birds (such as guinea fowl, pheasant, and ducks) especially where local
flooding provides the essentialwater.
For poultry, plant systemsquickly evolve. In the case of pheasantand quail, a simple reduction or elimination of herbivorous browsers (rabbits, cattle) permits plants to seed,and provides
seedforage in a single summer. Provision of crop-stones as gravel, and shell-grit for egg calcium
(where native snails are few) enables poultry to deal with the harder seed-coatsof many plant
In the plant list, speciessuited to windbreak, hedgerow, understorey and herb layer are indicated, so that normal design planning appIies in structuring the poultry forage speciessystem.
While there is a new emphasison free range systems,they are seldom (if ever) specified, and I
know of none designed to function as such. Turner” comes closestwith his cattle pastures, but
omits the structural design allowed by correct placement of hedgerow, grain or oat crop, and
By planting and observing a variety of forage species,we greatly reduce (perhapsevenobviate)
the need for stored, husked grains, and should therefore be aheadin terms of energy ‘economics’.
In Fig. 8.1 I have indicated the spatial layout of such a forage systemcentred on a homestead,and
Figs. 8.2 and 8.3 elaborate the theme. More observations of bird/plant associationsare needed
for more elaborate designs, but the specieslisted give a balanced basis for beginning, with
“fail-safe” strawyards (deep-mulched and gate enclosures to produce emergency food from
grains and pulses). There are the following integrated systemsto consider on a broad scale(2000
m* or so--‘/z acre-and upward):
the hardy free-range system of Zone II, plus the normal orchard species-stored foods
gathered from here;
strawyards for seasonalforage, gleaning, and production of stored seeds;
throwover pens for more tender greensand highly-selected browse speciessuch as chard; and
storage bins or shedsto store hard foods for the spring “hungry gap” when seedsand berries
are few.
There are certainly possibilities for evolving very broad-scale poultry forage systems, using
pigeons, quail or pheasant, in field shelters to harvest the crop. The spacing of field shelterswill
be dictated by such factors as keeping pure-bred flocKs separated,the normal ranging habits of
the birds, and the scale of the operation (the time available to harvest eggs or meat products).
We know little about the optimum balance of plant and animal species,but, in any case, this
may depend more on the snail or insect population of the area than on prior planning. Normal
hygiene, or prevention of infection between speciesmust also be considered, and speciesselected
for egg or carcaseyield.
Aquatic or part-aquatic (edge)systemsneed further work, as do trials of the free forage system.
In the wider context of permaculture planning, a pDulty forage system can be integrated with:
fire control by scratching, raking, grazing;
glasshouseheating using body heat of birds;
honey production from the flowers of forage crop species;
stored food for larger stock species(e.g. goats);
home orchard production;
0 seed production for store or sale;
0 manurial waste disposal systems,hence annual gardening or composting;
0 pest control on the range, which can encapsulatethe home garden as a pest barrier (for control
of grasshoppers,and snails as an example);
0 general product diversification (roadside sales, etc.); and
@ evolution to a large-animal (cattle, deer) forage system.
As for orchards, and in line with soil conditioning and mulch processesalready outlined
elsewhere. The area must be controlled for browsing herbivores, sown to herbal leys, and
nitrogenous or leguminous plants established as manure crop for the slower-evolving trees,
shrubs, herbs and root crops.
Initial costsare in fencing, initial mulching of strawyards, in buildings, water supply and stock
provision (both plant and animal species).As in most permaculture or complex systems,species
such as fungi and insectssoon begin to complicate the systemand may provide resourcesbeyond
those planned.
Becauseof the high manurial and mechanical turnover in strawyards or pens, quite rough
bracken, cornstalk, hed.geclipping and straw residuesare quickly shreddedand decay to mulch,
as they do in sheds. Weed control can also be achieved by regulating the time and density of
stocking rates, and the speciespermitted to range. Small speciessuch as ducks, hens and guineafowl can be stocked from the beginning, and geeseadded after the first year or so.
Stored food draws from two main sources:
0 hard seedpods and seed heads from strawyards; and
0 gathered or raked windfalls from walnut, oak, carob, and like trees.
Forage storage needs racks, dry shelves,bins, wires for corn cobs (or cribs), drying floors or
pits for acorns and chestnuts, and overhead hooks or racks for sunflower heads. Pest-proofing
from rats and sparrows is essential, and a small hammer mill a great asset.
Yield needsto be regulated in two ways:
* for steady forage yield (to reduce storage needs); and
@ for regular carcaseor egg yield.
Insofar as seasonalforage drop is concerned, there are few problems. As a suggestedpattern:
hard seed (Acacia, Robinia, Curanga) falls mainly from early summer, but has some residue all
year. Berries follow in late summer and autumn, and persist to late winter. Large seeds(walnuts,
acorns) persist from autumn to spring, or all year if gathered and dried, and greensand annuals
carry over in spring and early summer.
Regular egg yield may need poultry variety selection (Dorkings for winter, with some ducks,
heavy breeds for spring, Leghorns for summer laying). Pigeon and quail, more closely managed,
yield for most of the year, if age classesare kept mixed. Professional breederswho wish to avoid
mechanical brooders, use Wyandottes and/or silky bantams for brooding the eggs of other
When we reach more sophisticated levels, it will be possible to expressthe ‘value’ of certain
trees and plants in terms of P.F.D. or “poultry forage days”. That is, the value of a mature tree
lucerne may be about 2.5 kilos of seed,which would keep a hen for 30 days or so on free range.
Already, Smith” has stated that a black walnut at maturity will keep 8 hens all year, so that a
single tree like this is of 365 x 8 = 2,920 P.F.D. value. If we work out theseequivalents, plants
of high value, even if they are slow to grow, can be preferentially planted. Fig. 4.2 was, in fact,
worked out on a “cattle-day” basis by the Victorian Agricultural Dept., and this is also how
Turner33 assesseshis herbal leys and pastures. A friend in Perth (W.A.) reports that his 17 year
old carob yields a 3-6 bean daily supplement for 3 goats all year (gathering only some of the
beans)and that this is sufficient sugarsand “concentrates” for them to deal with on rough range,
so that a carob has at least 1,000 G.F.D. (goat forage days) concentrate value.
As far as blackbirds, starlings and woodpigeon are concerned, they too can become (via traps
or mist nets) part of the protein crop of a forage system.
As Neil Douglas (in conversation) points out, poultry on range can be very useful weeding
mechanisms, and if we chose plant speciesuseful to us but not much damaged by poultry, we
could have a work-free garden! One instance is Oxalis spp., eagerly eaten by hens, but a pest to
small-fruit growers. Neither small-fruit nor asparagusare much affected by hens, although geese
are (of course)heavy grazersof gooseberriesand smallfruit. Poultry will, in time, kill out persistent but selectedherbs (although slow re-invasion may take place). Hence their value in orchards
other than the manurial benefits they give.
Predator control: Birds preying on poultry are largely foiled by a tree-forage system, where
domestic stock such as ducks, pigeons, guinea-fowl and hens can escapeinto shrubberiesor roost
in trees, Ground predators such as the fox are a real problem, but ways of controlling theseare
suggestedin Figs. 8.4 and b.5. Again, hens at roost may be used as “baits” for ground predators,
and their shedsfitted with a ground-level live-trap to capture foxes for use or deportation. Large
flocks of pigeon, housed in secure,raised lofts are largely imune from predation, and may be the
most useful poultry for ‘wild’ areas.
(An annotated specieslist of plants known to be useful as poultry forage). This list (while unique in intention) is certainly not exhaustive, and any significant additions would be welcomed.
1 Species with Seeds and Pods in Summer
(Chaemocytisus proliferus)
Early to mid-summer seed drop. Foliage also edible. Hardy. (The
false tree lucernes (Cytisus pallidus, C. pullilans are also of use.)
As above.
(L. bicolor,
L. cytobotrya.
L . sericea.
L. striata)
Wind, salt, and pest resistant shrubs.
(A. halimus,
many other species).
Used mainly as poultry fodder, but seedcan be eaten.
(Caragana arborescens,
C. siberica) .
Seedsand pods stored for milling.
(Ceratonia siliqua)
As above.
(Gleditsia triacanthos)
Seed. Leaves may poison stock.
(Robinia pseudoacacia)
(Prosopis and Strom-
As for carob, and as resistant to salt and drought.
bocarpa) .
It is in this genua that we seek, and find many hard-seeded species
eaten by man or his domestic stock, and by wild birds. In some both
pods and seedare edible. Restricted examplesare:
Acacia giraffae
Ground-up pods fed to livestock.
A. albida
Excellent also as a nurse tree in crops.
A. uneura, A. kempeana, A. boloserica. A. cowleana, A. victoriae, A. binervata, A. longifolia.
A. peuce, A. oswaldia. Ail from Australia, all useful as human food in emergencies,and alI
drought, salt and frost hardy.
Appear to have characteristics like those of acacia.
Trees and Shrubs Yielding r\Juts or Acorns 2
for Storage (Autumn - Spring)
(Juglans nigra)
Store for 12 months.
(J. regia)
As above.
(Castunea saliva)
Store for 6 months only, unless chilled, or dried in the sun.
(Quercus spp. )
Almost all acorns are edible for poultry. Acorns are easyto collect and
store in damp earths or swamps, or dried, or fresh for short periods of
the year. Recommended as poultry food in the U.K. in wartime.
Kernels of fruits stored for stock food.
Yield oil-rich nuts irregularly.
Balanites Spp.
(Fngus SPP.)
Berries and Fruits Yielding Flesh 3
or Seed (late Summer s mid Winter)
Lycium ferocissimum,
L . chinensis.
Coprosma spp.
(C. lucida,
C. australis,
C. parviflora,
C. repens,
C. Kirkii,
C. robusta).
(Morus alba,
M. nigra).
Thorny hedgeswith berries and seedslate summer to late winter. Salt
and wind tolerant. Eagerly sought by poultry.
A useful and hardy set of N.Z. plants for coasts, swamps,
understorey, shelter plants. (See Metcalf, L. J. The Cultivation of
New Zealand Trees and Shrubs, Reed, Wellington, 1972, for culture.)
Most are dioecious and need about 5% male plants. Almost all grow
from cuttings or as quickset hedges. The N.Z. Whole Earth Catalogue
(1975) states that poultry survive all year round on 3 or so of these
species.Stock like the foliage, which is also of good manurial value,
Trees prune well to hedges.
Important poultry food of high protein value.
(Sambucus spp.).
As for mulberry.
(Owenia reticulata,
0. acidula).
A noted food for that species,and for pigeons.
of a great many speciesyield nuts and fruit for storage in sub-tropical
and tropical areas.
A hardy poultry berry bush.
(Rhus lancea)
Canthium latifoliam
A desert shrub with edible berries, as is the Berrigan (Eremophila
longifolia) .
Crataegus spp.
and serviceberries provide a range of fodders.
(Gourlila decorticans)
is also used as fodder.
4 Vines for Fences and Ti-elk
Dolichos spp.
Passiflora spp.
(Thun bergia)
Annual and perennial beans, probably well-suited to pigeons. Species
range from temperate to tropical, evergreenperennial to annual.
As for Dolichos. The fruit of the banana and biack passionfruit are
both eagerly eaten by poultry. Banana passionfruit is frost-resistant
and will “trellis” on most trees (including eucalypt) if planted at the
Is a free-seedingrambler recommended for poultry feed.
Also of use waste piles or low trellis.
(Actinostemma lobatum) A scrambler with oily seeds.
5 Roots
Nut-grass (Eleocharis) and sour-grass (Qxalis spp.) yield shallow tubers utilized by birds,
although they are pest speciesin other areas.Oca is a specialculture of Oxalk. Poultry eat the Oxalis, leaves and stems.
Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus) can be pulled as needed, especially in lean periods, and
flourishes under oak forest or in poor soil.
6 Greens and Seeds as Herb Layer
On extensivefree range, the herbal layer should not be neglected,and clovers, medics, lucerne,
chicory, asparagus,plantain, fennel, and the herbs recommendedby Turner33may be sown, with
mixed grasses. Ducks and geese also appreciated the seed-headsof rye grassesand clovers.
Pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana) is eaten by birds, especially pigeons.
Wood millet (Milium effusum) lupin species,perennial buckwheat (Pagpyrum cyanosum), partridge berry (Mitchella repens) below pine trees, or in acid conditions; checkerberry (Gaultheria
procumbeus) Soulkir (Agriophyllum gobicum) can be usedas whole plant greens,or for seeds,as
can Celtis australis and C. occiden talis. Wild rye (Elymus condensatus)tolerates moderate salinity and wild rice (Zizania aquatica) yields heavily in ponds for duck forage, as do Lotus spp. and
strapweed (Triglochin), together with the algal pond weeds.
7 Species for Broadcast Sowing in Strawvards
Helianthus spp. (Heads stored in autumn)
Panicum spp.
And the usual grains of wheat of wheat, rye, barley, oats, teffi etc.
(many species)is also loved by poultry. Most broadcast grain crop is
easily stored, as are the pulses (below) for pigeon and poultry feed.
Tolerant of a fairly wide range of soils and climates.
As above.
Lab-Lab or small Dolichos beansas ground cover.
a great variety exists.
useful in tropics.
Cen trosemia
Not known to the writer as poultry food, but a probable success would be the Amaranthus
grains of South America, of which some loo0 varieties are cultivated. Eragrostis and Portulaca
seedsare also used, in Australia, as human food. Linseed can be judiciously used, as can (in happier times) the seed of marijuana or hemp (Cannabis), once an important bird food.
Capsella bursa-pastoris):
(Galium aparine)
(Plan tag0 major,
P. lanceolata):
Turner” recommends this herb as a poultry forage and statesthat “it
hasa stimulating effect on egg production”. As it may be a nuisancein
areaswhere it is not wanted, poultry are a valuable control.
another useful seed plant for poultry (Turner, op. cit.) which is a
nuisance elsewhere. “They love the seed and readily consume the
whole plant when its iron and iodine content are very valuable,
especiallyto yarded or deep-litter birds. It is well worthwhile to gather
Cleavers solely for the purpose of feeding it to intensively-kept
poultry.” For free-range poultry Cleaversmay needto be protected by
brush or netted fence enclosures.Again, poultry are useful as controls
on this species.
recommendedby Lawrence Hill and others as a crop which can readily
absorb chicken manure wasteand produce lots of green fodder. Eagerly sought by ducks in local trials.
the first choice of all greens,but free poultry accesscannot be permitted. Successionalsowings in throwover area ensuresyear-round leaves
for green forage.
It only remains for the homesteaderto gather thesewarps of plants and wefts of animals into a
logical weave. Some layouts are already figures and suggested,others may evolve from observation, or be modified by local conditions. Salt marsh may suggest more geese,wetlands more
ducks, and desertsmore quail or pigeon in the speciesmix.
The plants should be arranged to hedge and shield the buildings, permit observation, and
reduce lossesfrom exposure to sun, wind, rain and predators.
Of Ludo Chardenon, a traditional herbalist in Provence, Lawrence Durrell has this to say:
“I saw him as belonging to that obstinate tribe of men, the creative yea-sayingones, who are
obstinately holding the pass. . . until the rest of us come to our senses,and decide what we
want to live for, and with, and how. YYS,it is up to us.”
( The Plant Magic Man ; Yes! 1975)
Spreading the gospel of quiet, responsible gardening is indeed the “one-straw revolution”’ that
yea-saying men seek.
All of those mentioned care more for health, land, and hu(nanity than for themselves,and all
are busy people in many fields; all are ‘lateral thinkers’ or multidisciplinary in the best sense.The
organic farming movement is part of the new revolution in self-sufficiency in country and town,
as the Down to Earth Movement started by Jim Cairns and Juni Morosi is the new synthesisof
alternatives in lifestyles. May they all prosper.
The global village community is in the throes of its formative years, and should produce over
the next decade, the most remarkable revolution in thought, values, and technology that has yet
been evolved. This contribution is intended to speednot the plough but the philosophy of a new
and diverse approach to land and living, and make the plough obsolete.
For myself, I seeno other solution (political, economic) to the problems of man than the formation of small responsible communities involved in permaculture and appropriate technology,
for both individual and competitive enterprise and ‘free’ energy have failed us. Society is in a
mess; obesity in the west is balanced by famine in the third world. Petrol is running out, and yet
freeways are still being built. Against such universal insanity the only response is to gather
together a few friends and commence to build the alternative, on a philosophy of individual
responsibility for community survival.
Listening to JacquesCousteau (A.B.C., Aug. 29th, 1977)I was inspired by his call for scientists
to use plain words and to turn their energiesto life processesuseful to the common man. Sir MacFarlane Burnett in Australia makesa similar plea, as yet little heededby the education industry in
a country where even government-employed foresters and agriculturalists spend most of their
energiesin researchfor large properties or firms, not for the individual or small group, and where
industry and government offer expensiveand often dangerous centralized energy systems.
I believe that the days of centralized power are numbered, and that a re-tribalization of society
is an inevitable, if sometimes painful process. The applied theories of politics, economics and industry have made a sick society; it is time for new approaches. We live in the post-industrial
world, and have an immense amount of sophisticated information and technology which enables
us to exchangeinformation while living in a village situation. Permaculture is a basic technique
for such an evolution, and like all biological, wholistic systems,is within the reach of everyman.
Permaculture both conservesand generatesthe fuel energiesof transport systems, and would
enable any community to exist comfortably on very restricted land areas.Supplemented with the
appropriate a?d available technologies of methane and alcohol fuels, dry distillation processes,
and wind, wave, water or solar energies, it would provide the basis of a sustainable and
regionalized society. Combined with community co-operation, permaculture promises freedom
from many of the ills that plague us, and accepts all the organic wastes of the community it
Thus, a permaculture system integrated with human settlement provides an inexhaustible
energy system, fueled by the sun and developed by the community.
In moving towards such a safe society, all we haveto fear is fear, for in the end the only security lies within ourselves, the only safety in having friends, good neighbours, and a meaningful
society of man.
A society which spendsas much on the arms race in one hour as it spendson famine relief in a
year must inevitably perish from war and famine. Why should we any longer permit high energy
houses,cars, freeways and armaments to be built when we are in dangerof dying of inaction? Unwilling as some of us are to act we must find ways to do so for our own survival. Not all of us are,
can, or needto be, farmers and gardeners. However everyone has skills and strengths to offer and
may form or join ecology parties or local action groups to change the politics of our local and
state governments, to demand the use of public lands on behalf of landlesspeople, and to join internationally to divert resourcesfrom waste and destruction to conservation and construction.
Permaculture One, was, often enough, regarded as a political book. On reflection, perhaps it
was, and if so it was a quantum leap away from existing political treatises,in that it suggeststhat
man does not need a waste society or centralised power, only regional self-sufficiency and worldwide communication.
The lack of humour and foresight, humanity and common sense,that characterisesall present
politico-economic systemsis appalling. The whole world is disenfranchised, with satellitesspying
on us from above, and multiple Idi Amins at ground level; refugeesafloat and en route, and
famine and obesity taking equal tolls on heal:h.
We are told that we have an energy crisis. That is a lie while we continue to build freewaysand
bombers, We are told that we cannot accept refugees.That is a lie while we destroy surplus grain.
We are told we need sewerage,lo-square (minimum) houses, and a job. That is a lie too, as this
book may help to show. What we do need is a working group of good-humoured people pledged
to world citizenship, self-reliance, and an ethic of social and individual responsibility. Every
dwelling needsa tank, drb toilet, a small glasshouse,an insulated spaceand a garden. Nobody
needsthe flush toilet and a monopoly on political and economic power (“the runaway bus with
no driver at the wheel”).
There are no utopias in the offing, and no blueprints for one, but man could create a saner,
happier, lessalienated and more humane world. Human society is complex and I do not pretend
to h:aveall the answers,but it seemsto me that we will have taken severalstepsin that direction if
we can pledge ourselvesto:
world citizenship, membership of spaceshipearth;
global communication and education;
aid to others to establish self-reliance, not create dependence;
0 self-reliance in ourselvesand our group (village, tribe, community);
care of the earth;
absolutely no waste products, hence no “unemployed”;
adoption of the most sophisticated environmental principles we can know;
a moratorium on freeways, arms, centralised power, and export of any energy sourcesnot used in accordancewith these principles;
gradual removal of all tariffs, passports, visasand impediments to travel (true world citizenship);
open media devoted to spreading these principles (especially appropriate electronic media,
which saveforests).
For Intentional Communities:
all groups/neighbourhoods limited in size from 300-3000(no more or lessless), and at least 5
locations for each group, one of these to be an “overseas” centre (groups never to have a fixed
community ownership of land and public resources(life leaseson homes and gardens, to be
sure). The cruel myth of “ownership” of resourcesand people is where we have lost touch with
reality, evolved paternalism and lost the right to define our own employment and worth.
Regional groups to choose specialized ‘trade’ manufactures suited to local resources,skills,
inclinations and markets; and
a programme to make every house and town self-sufficient with teams from each stabilized
area advancing into disaster areas and the third world (which lies within as well as without affluent nations);
global federations of specialized groups in travel and trade, exchangeof skills, with mobile
groups based on transport systems.
All we need to do to achieve this is to start. Even 1000 people have enormous personal
resources, land, housing, income and ability. With these shared, all would have more than
“Enough” is a warm place, good nutrition (hence, health), plenty of information, many
friends, a meaningful task or two and reliance on the group, henceabsolute security. Who needs
insurance, spy satellites, or any of those expensivewaste products of insecurity? Multinationals,
like national pride, are a result of greed and the need to hold what you have. Perhapsthe greatest
truth is that we can only own the resourceswe give to others. As Titmuss (The Gift Relationship,
GeorgeAllen and Unwin, 1970)so clearly enunciated, a world totally governed by private market
principles ultimately deprivesman of the “freedom to give”, the right to behavealtruistically. We
are fast approaching this point, and the consequencesfor human society will be nothing short of
disastrous. Think that one over and join the “world self-reliancevolunteers”. There are plenty of
fights and adventuresto hand: the fight against cold, hunger, poverty, ignorance, overpopulation
and greed; adventures in travel, humanity, applied ecology, and sophisticated design-which
would be a far better life than most people are living now, and wsiihi mean a life for our children.
It would make this book very bulky and expensivehad we included a specieslist, as in Permaculture One. Severalpractical designsare also omitted, as these are specific to site, and again
add to costs. However, we are preparing a great deal of additional material and carrying out our
own research, as outlined below.
At Tagari we subsiston our own gardening, and by publishing and consulting in Permaculture
design. A design team is active (Ted Lamont, Bill Mollison, Andrew Jeeves,Simon Fell, Peter
Moore), and others are being trained in field work. Members of the consultancy will travel for
lectures, seminars, and planning sessionson quote (fares pre-paid). Specialtiesare planning for
unemployed and disadvantaged groups. We also like to work for other communities.
Designs have beencompleted over a great variety of situations and climates, in factory interiors
and for public authorities and instrumentalities. Associatesare specialistsin educational architecture, reactive housing, agricultural science,keyline planning, horticulture and aquaculture; any
of these can be called in for specific works. Feesare currently those of landscapearchitects, or
normal architectural fees, but we claim we are worth it.
For small local designs, a minimum fee of $300.00 covers fares and the design report, ground
plans and speciesdocumentation: for large properties, architecture, and public works we will
quote on design or work to a normal hourly rate. Travel beyond 6-800 kms must be arranged by
the client, and can often be offset by local lecture fees or workshops in the area. Where possible
we do cost-price designs for Aboriginal or disadvantagedgroups.
All designshold strictly to a low-energy, safe, and reactive philosophy; for those who cannot
afford $300.00 we also have a set of “Standard Designs” (seelisting below) and we will include
others on specific request, providing these are on clearly-defined and limited subjects. Most of
these designs include ground plans or sketches.
These are supplied as looseleaf sheets,and are updated at regular intervals. A full list can be
had for S.A.E. (large) and 40~ stamps. Samples are:
Rock dome planting (for granite and exposedrock areas).
Tidal flat ponds.
Flatland dam (below grade) and house site.
Mosquito control techniques.
Blackberry control.
Fox predation prevention.
Planting in the presenceof rabbits.
Tomato/Asparagus polyculture.
Culinary herb spiral.
Home production of potatoes.
Pruning in permaculture.
Planting on broadscale.
Usesfor tyres.
Fuel production from plants.
Farm-Link: involving town with country,
Wayside marketing.
Self-pick sales.
Trellis structures and planting, sun traps.
Collecting water from rock dome seepage.
Shade house-documented.
Attached g&house-documented (give latitude).
Complete list of poultry forage species.
Hedgerow species-barrier hedges.
Cattle forage species.
Pig forage species.
Seacoast speciesfor salt, wind resistance.
Contract cropping in Neighbourhoods.
Dispersed tree crop with contract sales.
Dispersedlivestock with contract sales.
Types of Public Allotments.
(The emphasis of this group is on meaningful employment.)
(Please request any special design or documentation you may need. All designsare copyrighted.
Prices range from !§4-15.00to date.)
The remarkable Terry White, (of 37 Goldsmith St., Maryborough) edits our Quarterly Journal
for the bargain price of $8.00 p.a. at present (which only just covers printing and distribution
costs). In this worthy journal we list requests, supplies, exchangenews and views, and spreadour
net to cover permaculture, appropriate technology, and community. Any overseasgroup who
wishes to start a local newsletter may do so by application. Gifts are always welcome-we are
usually in financial straits as an association!
Local suppliers may obtain one free listing of usefttl speciesif they submit a list. Members are
encouragedto collect and sell or exchangeselectedlocal seed.Groups wanting help may call for it
here, and most general letters on permaculture should be routed to the Quarterly.
Tagari have purchased 78 acresof coastal swamp and dryland in Stanley, Tasmania, and (with
local gardens) have designs and plans in operation, as from January, 1979.The main land area
will be devoted to demonstrating techniques of planting and design, and still-pond culture will be
a feature. We are assembling speciesof sub-tropical to cool temperate range (there are no frosts),
and appreciate seedor divisions of rare species,water plants of use.
The institute will researchand become a resource for speciesfor southern Australia-a sort of
permaculture arboretum. We aim to become partly self-supporting by charging for admission,
‘schools’ and visitors, and by the sale of seedsand plants. The commercial crops on site will be
nuts, some fruits, water plants, and aquatic birds/poultry. Planting is progressing well, but we
need earthworks and more species.Formal organisation will be notified in the Quarterly.
We are preparing a looseleaf speciesindex of useful plants and animals. The first 1,ooOspecies
or so should be available by January 1980.Pleaseenquire then. Speciesare describedaccording to
standard sheets,and will cover all climates and niches. Several useful short lists will be extracted
as the work proceeds.Special attention will be given to design potential, placement, use, and processing.
Membership of Tagari is open to all easygoing workers, preferably with some capital to house
themselvesor to help house themselvesat this stage, Enquiry by letter. A mutual trial period of
membership (minimum 3 months) is necessary.Accommodation is short.
Tagari is a full commitment community, where a trust will hold all property in common, a partnership will run the ‘business’ and all income and resourcesare,shared. Members live in family
houses. The association itself is not registered, and makes its own on-going decisions. Warehouse
spaceand land is ample for present needs. Housing is short until we acquire more capital or are
able to build,
Except for the Quarterly, enquiries on all aspectsshould be directed to
P.O. Box 96,
Tasmania 7331:(Phone: (004) 581105, Xl-4 p.m.)
Mollison, B., and Holmgren, D.
Permaculture One. A perennial agriculture for human settlements.
Transworld (Corgi, Bantam) 1978. Melb.
(This first book in this series,dealing with the rationale for a new look at perennial
agriculture, and the need for design.)
Yeomans, P. A.
Water for every Farm
Murray, Sydney, undated.
(P, A. and Ken Yeomans have greatly assistedthe writer, and others, by clearly explaining their methods of landscape analysis and soil treatment.)
Fukuoka, M.
The One-Straw Revolution
Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa. 1978.
(Perhaps the most significant book on permanent agriculture. Should be translated
into all languagesand given away by all governments.)
Phillips, S. H., and Young, H. M. Jr.
No- Tillage Farming.
Reiman Associates, Wisconsin, 1973.
(An early, technological work on the rise of “no-dig”, but sprayed, broad-acre
King, F. H.
Farmers of Forty Centuries
Rodale Press, Emmaus. Pa.
(The classicon eastern agricultural methods, emphasison permanent systemsof
growing annuals.)
Papanek, V.
Design for the Real World
Paladin Books, 1974.
(A seminal book for the meta-industrial technologist.)
Stout, Ruth, and Clemence, R.
The Ruth Stout No-Work
Garden Book
Rodale Press, Emmaus. Pa.
White, Deborah, et alia
Seeds for Change. Creatively confronting
the energy crtiis.
Patchwork Press, Melb. 1978.
(The essentialAustralian energy crisis book-politicians
Williams, C.
please note.)
Craftsmen of Necessity.
Vintage Books, N.Y. 1974.
(A pleasure to read, shows deep understanding of passivesystemsof buildings and
Day Lewis, C. (Trans.)
The Ecologues, Georgics and Aeneid of V.rgil
Oxford Univ. Press. ‘1977.
(Ancient, if fragmentary, plant and animal husbandry.)
Lovelock, Y.
(Curious, literary, and practical information on a great variety of edible plants.)
Logsden, G.
Vegetables, An Unnatural History
Small-scale Grain Growing.
Rodale Press, 1977
(Like all of Gene Logsden’s books, this one is practical and useful. With refs. 3 and
13, the grain grower can proceed.)
F.A.O. (Rome) 1961.
and Horticultural
i+inciples of Environmental
(A valuable compendium for the crop gardener.)
‘Watt, K.
(A handy guide to the rules of good environmental management and analysis.)
Hickling, G. F.
Fish Culture
Faber and Faber, London, 1962.
(Standard text on the title subject.)
Chakroff, Marilyn,
Freshwater Fish Pond Culture and Management
V.I.T.A. Manual, Series36 E, 1976.
Available from: Fish pond culture, 3706 Rhode Island, Mt. Rainier, MD 20822,
Poulsen, G.
Man and Tree in Tropical Africa
IDRC lOle, 1978.
Available from: IDRC, Box 8500, Ottawa, Canada, KIG 3H9.
(Excellent essayson tropical agriculture.)
Andersen, E.
Landscape Papers
Turtle Island Foundation, Berkeley, 1976.
Odum, Howard T.
Power and Society
John Wiley, N.Y., 1971.
Mollison, B.
Arid Land Permaculture
Tagari Pub. 1978.
(Now forming Section 5.1 of this book.)
Howard, Sir A.,
An Agricultural
Oxford Univ. Press. 1943.
Van der Muelen, G. F.,
The Ecological Methods for Permanent Land Use in the Tropics
Ranonkelstaat 119, The Hague, Netherlands (Undated).
(Complements Poulsen’s papers on tropical ecology.)
Evenari, M., et alia
Agronomy @Urnal, 60, 62, 63. (A seriesof articles on run-off farming in arid
Hall, N. et alia.
The Use of Trees and Shrubs in the Dry Country of Australia
Aust. Govt. Pubs. (AGPS), Canberra, 1972.
Brokenshaw, P.
The Pitjantjatjara and their crafts
Aboriginal Arts Board, 1975.
Cleland, J. B.
in: Aboriginal Man in South and Central Australia,
Govt. Printer, Adelaide, 1966
(Native species)
Latz, P. K.
in: The Nutrition of Aborigines in Relation to the Ecosystem of Central Australia.
CSIRO, 1978.
Maggs, D. H., As above.
Frith, H. J., As above.
Permaculture Quarterly, Terry White (Ed.)
37, Goldsmith St., Maryborough, Vie.
Gollan , Anne,
The Tradition of Australian Cookery
A.N.U. Press, Canberra, 1978
P.M.B. 65, Alice Springs, N.T. 5750
(Newsletters and News-sheets).
Smith, R.
Devine-Adair , Old Greenwich, 1977.
Kern, Ken.
Owner Built Publications, Calif., 1974.
Turner, N.
Homelands Health Service,
Tree Crops: a permanent agriculture
The Owner-Built
Fertility Pastures,
Barggler Rateaver, 1974.
Fisher and Yanda,
John Muir Pubs, New Mexico, 1976.
McCullagh, James C.,
The Food and Heat Producing Solar Greenhouse,
The Solar Greenhouse Book,
Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa., 1978.
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